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Southeast falls to 0-3
Derek Winans did everything he could to almost single-handedly keep Southeast Missouri State University in the game Tuesday night.
But in the end, a deeper, stronger and more athletic Arkansas-Little Rock team simply was a bit too much for the outmanned Indians.
Winans, a redshirt freshman guard playing in just his second collegiate game, was dazzling with 29 points, but the Trojans were able to hold off several Southeast runs to post an 83-74 victory in front of 3,931 fans at the Show Me Center.
The Indians fell to 0-3 for the first time since the program's inaugural Division I season in 1991-92. The Trojans improved to 3-2.
"I hate losing," said Winans.
But it certainly wasn't the Shawnee (Ill.) High School product's fault. Winans hit 11 of 18 shots, including four of eight from 3-point range, and fired in 18 second-half points to consistently keep the Indians within striking distance.
"We really turned the offense well and I was just getting opportunities," said Winans. "I just had to hit 'em."
Even though Winans hit plenty, Southeast coach Gary Garner said there was little mystery as to what transpired on the court.
"We got beat by a better basketball team. They're the best team we've played to this point," said Garner. "Their inside people were better than I thought. They really dominated us."
The Trojans, using a size and strength advantage to seemingly score at will inside all night, shot a sizzling 56.7 percent from the field on 34 of 60.
Nick Zachery, an explosive guard, paced the Trojans with 21 points on 6-for-9 shooting, including 3-for-5 from 3-point range. Damion Ninkovic, a 6-foot-8, 245-pound forward, hit eight of 14 shots and scored 18 points.
Southeast also fared well from the field, shooting 50 percent on 27 of 54. Freshman guard Brett Hale added 17 points for the Indians while Tim Scheer hit three of five 3-pointers and contributed 16 points. Hale had 13 second-half points while Scheer had 13 in the first half.
But three other players who the Indians count on for solid scoring -- Drew DeMond, Daniel Weaver and Demetrius King -- combined for just four points, all by DeMond. King had delivered 31 points in the first two games.
The Indians got into a deep hole early. They had turnovers on five of their first eight possessions as the Trojans bolted to a quick 10-0 lead.
UALR pushed its advantage to 32-14 with under six minutes to go in the opening half and it looked at that point as the Indians would get run out of the Show Me Center.
But as has been the case in their first three games, the Indians made things interesting despite being overmatched.
Southeast went on a 15-0 run -- Scheer had eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers -- to pull within 32-29.
Zachery, however, scored the game's next seven points and he added a 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer to send the Trojans into the locker room with a 44-33 advantage.
The Trojans quickly pushed the margin to 46-33 early in the second half, but again the Indian stormed back. A Winans 3-pointer made it 56-52 and Hale's 3-pointer with 11:35 remaining pulled Southeast to within 56-55.
UALR then went on a 10-0 run to go up 66-55, but Southeast had one more spurt left. Winans drained a long 3-pointer with 4:37 remaining to make it 70-65. The Indians were still within five at 72-67 on two DeMond free throws at the 3:45 mark.
But the Trojans closed out the Indians with a 7-0 run that put the game out of reach.
"We came out in the first half and we didn't match their intensity. That hurt us," Winans said. "In the second half we made a lot of runs but we just couldn't get over the hump."
Trojans coach Porter Moser said he was simply elated to get out of Cape Girardeau with a victory.
"I thought Southeast played so hard and I think Derek Winans is a terrific player," Moser said. "I'm pleased to come in and get a road win, especially the way we handled things down the stretch."