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SE forks over road win to Devils
Mississippi Valley State had lost its first three road games this year by an average of 31 points.
But, like most teams so far this season, the Delta Devils were able to get well at Southeast Missouri State University's expense.
The Delta Devils built an 18-point first-half lead and held off several second-half charges by the Indians as they cruised to an 82-70 victory at the Show Me Center Monday night.
MVSU improved to 4-3 while Southeast fell to 1-7.
"I knew it was going to come and I wanted it to come tonight because we're getting ready to get into conference play and we'll have to go on the road," said MVSU coach Lafayette Stribling of his squad's initial triumph away from home.
As happy as Stribling was as his team prepared for the long bus ride back to Itta Bena, Miss., Southeast coach Gary Garner had to face the opposite end of the spectrum after yet another loss for the Indians.
"It's disappointing because going in, I thought we would win the game," said Garner. "But their athleticism bothered us. They're a lot quicker than us."
Garner has rarely questioned his players' efforts this season and he didn't after Monday's contest.
But Garner acknowledged that the Indians' confidence is understandably thin these days.
"We're playing without confidence, no question. That happens when you're 1-6, and now 1-7," Garner said. "We're playing hard, but the confidence is not there and as a coach it's my job to try and help us get some more confidence."
The Delta Devils benefited from a balanced offensive attack as six players scored in double figures, led by freshman guard Michael Archie with 18 points. He also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.
Willie Neal followed with 14 points. D'Jamal Jackson and Attarrius Norwood both had 13 points although Jackson, the Delta Devils' leading scorer on the season at nearly 19 points per game, hit just six of 21 shots.
Ashley Robinson and Kevin Conley followed with 12 points apiece. Robinson, a 5-foot-8 senior point guard, also dished out 10 assists.
"What I like is our best shooter (Jackson) couldn't buy nothing and we still won," Stribling said. "But Ashley is like a coach on the floor. He really settles the team down."
Southeast had three double-figure scorers, led by redshirt freshman guard Derek Winans. Performing impressively again, Winans hit eight of 12 shots -- including four of six 3-pointers -- and scored 21 points to go along with a team-high seven rebounds.
Tim Scheer followed with 19 points and Damarcus Hence added 15.
The Indians were outrebounded 40-30 and gave up 16 offensive boards, both key factors in the game.
"Rebounding was one of our weaknesses, but we rebounded tonight," said Stribling.
MVSU pretty much had its way in the first half, shooting 63 percent (17 of 32) and holding an 18-9 rebounding edge. After trailing briefly early, the Delta Devils used a 20-2 run to build a pair of 18-point leads and they went into halftime ahead 41-29.
"They hit some tough shots in the first half, and when they missed, they would get the rebound and score," Garner said. "They got a big lead and got their confidence. When our team gets in a big hole, it's hard to come back."
As has been the case in many games this year, the Indians were able to make things semi-interesting before falling short.
A 12-5 run to start the second half pulled the Indians to within 46-41 and they got as close as 55-51 on a Demetrius King basket with 9:15 remaining.
But MVSU put together a 9-0 run over the next two minutes to go back up 64-51 and later led 70-54.
Southeast made one final charge as 3-pointers by Winans and Scheer made it 74-68 with under a minute left. But Robinson hit six straight free throws and Archie added a pair as MVSU pulled away again.
"I tried to settle the team down when things got tight. That's my job," Robinson said. "We really wanted to get our first road win tonight."