MACOMB, Ill. -- Looking over the final statistics Tuesday night, it was hard to believe Southeast Missouri State University actually lost to Western Illinois.
The Indians shot 52 percent from the field, 38 percent from 3-point range, outrebounded the Leathernecks 31 to 25 and had 15 turnovers, not an unusually high total.
But the answer lies in WIU's second-half marksmanship. The Leathernecks blistered the nets for 73-percent shooting over the final 20 minutes -- including 83 percent on 3-pointers -- to rally past the visiting Indians 84-75.
Southeast fell to 7-10 with the non-conference loss. WIU improved to 6-9 with its third straight victory and third consecutive triumph over the Indians over the past two years, including two last season.
"We just couldn't slow them down in the second half," Southeast coach Gary Garner said. "They just killed us inside. We could not get them under control."
Specifically, the Indians had no answer for Shawn Mason, a burly and powerful 6-foot-4 forward who bulled his way to 14 second-half points, including numerous key baskets down the stretch. Virtually all of Mason's points came from within a few feet of the basket.
"Mason just ate our inside guys up," Garner said. "We could not stop him."
The Indians lost despite a brilliant performance by sophomore guard Derek Winans, who poured in a career-high 33 points on 14-for-19 shooting, including five of nine 3-pointers.
"I felt good shooting the ball, but it would feel a lot better if we had won," Winans said. "We just didn't play good enough defense in the second half. Their inside guys just killed us."
Said Garner, "Derek had a tremendous game. He's such a warrior, and he always plays so hard."
Also scoring in double figures for the Indians were sophomore guard Brett Hale with 18 points and senior forward Tim Scheer with 13.
Sophomore guard Kevin Roberts recorded 11 assists with just one turnover, giving him 31 assists and only five turnovers in the last three games.
But the Indians could not overcome the limited minutes of a few key players.
Second-leading scorer Damarcus Hence, weak with stomach cramps that sent him to the hospital Monday and limited what he could eat, played just eight minutes. He did not score.
Key reserve Demetrius King, who missed the last two games with a knee injury, returned to action but played just 12 minutes and failed to score.
In addition, center Brandon Griffin -- the Indians' third-leading scorer and top rebounder who averages double figures in both categories -- picked up two early fouls and played just five first-half minutes. He finished with four points and five rebounds.
"We may have worn down a little bit. Damarcus and Demetrius are just not healthy," Garner said. "But that's not to make an excuse. You've got to give Western Illinois credit. They really played a great second half. They've gotten some guys eligible, and they're going to make some noise the second half of the season."
Mason finished with 18 points as he hit eight of 11 shots. Another strong inside player, Luis Rivas, also had 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting.
"The guards did a good job getting us the ball where we needed it," Mason said. "We got it going in the second half."
"They are very good inside players, and they just totally dominated us," Garner said.
Southeast controlled the first half, trailing only once and building a late 13-point lead before setting for a 42-35 advantage at the intermission. Winans had 18 first-half points.
The early part of the second half was a shootout as the teams traded baskets. Southeast briefly fell behind 52-51, but rallied for a 58-52 lead. The Indians were still ahead 62-54 with a little more than 12 minutes left.
But again, the Indians simply could not slow down Mason and Rivas inside. WIU kept coming and finally took the lead for good on a Mason basket with six minutes left that made it 67-66.
Southeast stayed close but never saw the lead again. With 2:20 left, Winans' long 3-pointer pulled the Indians to within 75-73.
It was 77-75 when Winans had a 3-pointer rim out with just over a minute remaining. WIU then iced the victory from the free-throw line.
"I don't know how that shot didn't go in," Winans said. "It hit about everything and almost dropped but came back out."
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