Redhawks win an OT decision vs. Bulldogs

Sunday, January 30, 2005

As far as Southeast Missouri State's Redhawks were concerned, they deserved to finally have an opponent's last-second shot miss the mark.

In this case, Samford's Jon Mills didn't miss by much, as his 3-point attempt just before the second-half buzzer appeared to go halfway down before spinning back out, sending the squads to overtime deadlocked at 60-60 Saturday night.

Given a reprieve, the Redhawks took full advantage, outscoring the Bulldogs 12-5 in the extra session to post a stirring 72-65 victory in front of more than 3,000 fans at the Show Me Center.

"It was like a flashback," said senior forward Reggie Golson, recalling 3-pointers late in regulation by both Tennessee Tech and Tennessee State that prevented potential Southeast wins and led to overtime defeats. "When it came out, I said we're going to get this one."

Added fellow senior forward Dainmon Gonner: "I was just thinking when he shot it, if we can go to overtime, we're due."

The Redhawks' third straight victory -- their longest winning streak since the 2000-01 season -- pushed their overall record to 9-10 and their Ohio Valley Conference mark to 4-4, matching their OVC win total from all of last season. Southeast moved to within a game of fourth place in the 11-team league.

Samford (11-8, 6-2) fell out of a first-place tie.

"What a great win," Southeast coach Gary Garner said. "When that three rimmed out, I said the tide has turned."

Golson, who played all 45 minutes, led Southeast with 20 points and seven rebounds. The OVC's leading shot-blocker did not have a rejection during regulation but delivered two big ones during the five-minute overtime.

Sophomore guard Terrick Willoughby, coming off a career-high 25-point performance, scored 16 points and grabbed six rebounds

Gonner, the OVC's leading scorer, played 44 minutes and had 14 points, along with seven rebounds, five assists and five steals.

Senior guard Derek Winans had 11 points and four assists, while junior guard Ryan Belcher continued to provide a spark off the bench with 11 points.

"Samford is tough," Winans said. "We showed a lot of character to pull this one out."

Garner knew that facing Samford's patient, Princeton-style offense that often results in either layups or open 3-pointers would be a chore, and he was right -- even though in the first half the Redhawks looked more like Princeton than the Bulldogs.

Executing their offense to near perfection, the Redhawks shot 57.1 percent in the first half and had no turnovers -- yet still managed to lead just 36-27 after Samford cut into an early 15-point deficit.

"I was scared to death at halftime because we had played a darn near perfect half and were only up nine," Garner said. "I don't think I've ever had a team with no turnovers in a half.

"But this is the kind of game Samford usually wins. They can come back so quick, because they get so many easy baskets and they shoot the 3 so well."

Garner was right on. The Bulldogs roared back and took their first lead since the game's early moments midway through the final half.

After that, things went back and forth, before Samford led 60-56 with under 2 minutes left. But Winans' acrobatic follow shot with 34 seconds remaining forged a 60-60 tie, and Southeast then survived Mills' potential game-winner.

Samford led 63-60 early in overtime, but Golson's three-point play tied it, then Gonner's 3-point basket with 2:20 left put Southeast ahead to stay at 66-63.

It was 66-65 when Golson scored inside at the 55-second mark for a 68-65 lead. Samford then missed three consecutive 3-point attempts, and Belcher made both ends of a one-and-one with 25 seconds left for a 70-65 cushion. Willoughby's breakaway dunk with 12 seconds left punctuated the victory.

The Redhawks finished with just six turnovers and shot 52.7 percent (29 of 55), while making six of 13 3-pointers. They hit four of six shots in overtime.

Samford, led by J. Robert Merritt's 20 points, shot 47.2 percent (25 of 53), but the Bulldogs were just one of 10 in OT.

"The biggest thing tonight was we played like a team," Willoughby said. "And we kept our defensive intensity against an offense that is real hard to guard."

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