CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. -- The Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team narrowly missed out on a major upset in Thursday night's Ohio Valley Conference opener.
But even in defeat, the Redhawks showed that they might not be the pushover that the rest of the league likely envisioned.
Southeast, coming off a three-win season and carrying the longest conference losing streak in OVC history, pushed perennial power Austin Peay to the limit.
Freshman guard Lucas Nutt capped a furious rally by drilling a 3-pointer with 4.8 seconds left in the second half, sending the squads to overtime tied 60-60.
Austin Peay outscored visiting Southeast 16-11 in the five-minute extra session to pull out a pulsating 76-71 victory.
"No doubt in my mind we can compete," junior forward Cameron Butler said. "We can play with anybody."
Austin Peay coach Dave Loos, whose squad now has won 19 of the past 21 meetings with Southeast -- including 11 straight on the Govs' home court -- heaped plenty of praise on the Redhawks.
"I was very impressed with SEMO. He [first-year coach Dickey Nutt] has got them playing hard," said Loos, who notched his 400th career victory Thursday. "We were lucky to get out of here with a win tonight."
Southeast fell to 2-6, while the Govs improved to 4-4.
The Redhawks, after going winless in OVC play last year, have lost 26 straight conference games. They were picked last in the league's preseason poll.
"That losing streak isn't going to last long," Loos said.
The Redhawks, trailing by 12 points early in the second half, kept chipping away at the deficit.
Two 3-pointers by freshman guard Derek Thompson -- one with 44 seconds left and one with 28 seconds left -- coupled with Austin Peay missing three of four free throws left Southeast behind 60-57 and with the ball.
Southeast called a timeout with 11 seconds left to set up a play.
Junior guard Anthony Allison threw the ball in from the side to Lucas Nutt, who shook off a defender, stepped back and let fly with a 3-pointer from a few feet behind the arc and a little to the left of straight on. The shot swished through the net with 4.8 seconds left.
"We wanted to get the ball to Derek, but if that didn't happen then penetrate and kick. But we had to get a 3," Dickey Nutt said. "What a great shot by Lucas. His follow through was perfect."
Lucas Nutt, the coach's son, said "my man fell and I just thought it was the best shot to take. I just let it go and it felt good."
Austin Peay misfired on a 3-pointer, sending the squads to overtime.
Nutt's two free throws 24 seconds into overtime put Southeast ahead 62-60, but that would be the Redhawks' only lead of the period.
After an Austin Peay free throw and a Southeast turnover, a basket by sophomore center John Fraley with 3:49 remaining put the Govs ahead 63-62.
Another Southeast turnover led to a pair of Austin Peay free throws, then after a Southeast miss, all-OVC senior guard Wes Channels drilled a 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock with 2:18 left made it 68-62.
Nutt's three-point play nine seconds later pulled Southeast within 68-65, but Channels hit two foul shots for a 70-65 advantage and the Redhawks got no closer than four points.
"We should have won that game," Lucas Nutt said.
Thompson led Southeast with 18 points as he hit 4 of 7 3-pointers.
Butler had 13 points and nine rebounds, but scored just three points after halftime as he attempted only one shot.
Allison had 12 points, 10 after halftime.
Nutt had the best game of his young Southeast career with 11 points, along with a team-high four assists. Nutt and Thompson both scored five of Southeast's 11 overtime points in addition to making the key plays late in regulation.
"Derek and Lucas really gave us a lift off the bench," Dickey Nutt said.
Channels paced Austin Peay with a game-high 20 points.
Southeast led 15-4 early, but Austin Peay rallied for a 29-23 halftime advantage. The Govs went up 35-23 early in the second half but couldn't shake Southeast.
"We fought hard, but we can't be satisfied with a loss," Butler said.
That was the message Dickey Nutt had for his team, along with how disappointed he was in Southeast's 32 fouls that led to Austin Peay attempting 42 free throws compared to 23 for Southeast. The Govs made 25 from the charity stripe while the Redhawks hit 15.
"We had a lack of discipline on the defensive end with all the fouling. It starts with me and we're going to get it fixed," Nutt said. "I was really proud of the team. We fought hard. But I told them that at the end of the day it's a loss.
"Don't be satisfied with taking a team to overtime or coming so close. This was a game for the taking."
Southeast concludes its two-game conference-opening road trip Saturday at Tennessee State (1-7), which began its OVC schedule with an 83-81 home loss in three overtimes to Eastern Illinois.