Redhawks' rally falls short

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, Ala. -- The surprise men's basketball team in the Ohio Valley Conference added to undermanned Southeast Missouri State's misery.

That despite a furious rally by the Redhawks that made Monday night's game mighty interesting.

But Jacksonville State had just enough at the end to drop the Redhawks to 0-4 in OVC play with a 71-66 victory.

"It's bittersweet," Southeast junior center Calvin Williams said. "We showed glimpses of what we're capable of doing."

The Redhawks, 3-12 overall, had lost their first three conference games by 11, 24 and 27 points.

Despite trailing 41-24 at halftime and 51-30 early in the second half, the Redhawks threatened to break through against the Gamecocks.

Southeast battled back to get within 64-61 on Williams' basket with a little more than 2 minutes left.

The Redhawks also made it a three-point game at 69-66 on junior point guard Bijon Jones' two free throws with 10 seconds remaining.

JSU hit a foul shot with 9 seconds left and another later to close out the contest.

"The comeback was great. I'm proud of them for that," said Southeast acting coach Zac Roman, whose squad has lost four straight and nine of its last 10. "It does prove we can play with anybody in the OVC if we just do some of the little things."

Southeast competed with only seven scholarship players due to injuries for the third consecutive game.

"It's tough," Williams said. "But we've just got to keep improving and keep our heads up."

JSU continues to surge under first-year coach James Green.

The Gamecocks, 8-4 overall and 2-1 in the OVC, already have surpassed their win total from a year ago, when they went 7-22 and finished last in the league.

JSU was picked to repeat its last-place OVC showing, but is doing much better than expected.

"I didn't like the way we finished the game, but we did get the win," Green said.

Southeast lost Saturday's opener of its two-game road swing 103-76 at Tennessee Tech.

Despite falling behind by 21 points, the Redhawks answered with a much stronger performance against the Gamecocks.

"But like I've been saying all year, we've got to get started better," Roman said.

Williams had his second double-double of the road trip by scoring 20 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. He also blocked four shots.

Senior forward Jaycen Herring added 15 points for the Redhawks while senior guard Kenard Moore contributed 13 points.

JSU was paced by sophomore guard Jeremy Bynum with 15 points.

Southeast never led for the second straight game. JSU used an early 11-0 run to go ahead 13-2.

Southeast was withing striking distance at 32-24 late in the first half, but the Gamecocks scored the final nine points of the period to lead 41-24 at the break.

The Gamecocks put up the first four points of the second half to make it 45-24.

It was 51-30 when Southeast began chipping away before the huge comeback fell a bit short.

"We just have to put two halves together," Williams said.

Southeast plays its next four games at home, beginning Saturday against Eastern Illinois.

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