Lions rally past Islanders, 62-56

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HAMMOND, La. – The Southeastern Louisiana men’s basketball team overcame a nine-point second half deficit to defeat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 62-56, Wednesday night at the University Center.

The Lions (5-12, 2-4 Southland) were led by freshman Byron Smith with 16 points including 9-for-9 from the free throw line. SLU’s Max Starwood came off the bench to score a career-high 12 points while grabbing six rebounds. Southeastern’s leading scorer, Ty Brewer, added 11 points and seven rebounds while freshman Maxim Romanov scored a career-high nine points to aid the Lions.

The Islanders (6-12, 2-5 Southland) got 15 points on five three-pointers from Jordan Hairston while Tony Lewis had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

“I thought our guys battled all game,” said SLU men’s head basketball coach David Kiefer. “We tell our guys every day that it’s not guaranteed that the shots are going to fall but rebounding and defense matters and should be there every game. I thought we let some offensive rebounds go their way in the first half. But in the second half I thought we did a fantastic job of getting our hands on the 50/50 balls and I thought offensively we did a much better job of moving the ball.”

In the first half, the Lions used their defense to stay in the game as they shot just 10-for-32 from the field and 0-10 from the three-point line. However, SLU trailed just 28-26 at halftime as they held the Islanders to 9-for-24 shooting.

In the second half, A&M-Corpus Christi came out on fire hitting their first seven shots helping build a 47-38 Islanders’ lead with 14:14 remaining. Southeastern’s defense came to life once again helping spark a 15-3 run giving the Lions a 53-50 lead with 5:26 to go. Brewer gave the Lions a two-possession lead, 56-52, drilling a three-pointer with 4:06 to go.

Smith sealed the deal for the Lions hitting six straight free throws in the final 24 seconds to clinch the win for SLU.

“Byron’s free throws were huge,” said Kiefer. “But I thought his relentless defensive pressure on the ball was an even bigger part. Their guys were fatigued because of how hard they had to work bringing the ball up against him and they started turning the ball over late and that starts with him.”

Starwood’s efforts off the bench seemed to spark the Lions in the second half and it drew the praise of Kiefer.

“Max is super talented and we knew he was capable of a game like this,” said Kiefer. “He brought our game plan to the floor and executed it perfectly. We tell him all the time that he has to be our warrior because he is the biggest and strongest kid we have and he did that tonight. He was all over the floor making plays and if we get that from him consistently, that makes us that much better.”

While Smith was the late game hero, the Lions’ defense was nearly perfect as they gave up just three field goals in the final 14 minutes. SLU forced the Islanders into 24 turnovers for the game leading to 25 points.

Next up, the Lions will take on Abilene Christian (9-7, 4-1 Southland) Saturday night at 7 p.m. on the road. The Wildcats were off Wednesday night but defeated the Islanders last Saturday night at home, 68-56.

HARDWOOD CLUB/S CLUB
Fans interested in becoming active supporters of the basketball program are encouraged to join the Hardwood Club. Lion alums are encouraged to join the exclusive S Club, which is restricted to Southeastern athletic letterwinners. All membership fees and donations to Hardwood Club are available for the exclusive use of the Southeastern basketball program. Membership information is available by contacting the Lion Athletics Association at laa@southeastern.edu or (985) 549-5091 or visiting www.LionUp.com.

SOCIAL MEDIA
For more information on Southeastern Basketball, follow @LionUpMBB and @DavidKieferSLU on Twitter, like /SLUathletics on Facebook and subscribe to the SLUathletics YouTube channel.

SOUTHEASTERN LA 62, A&M-CORPUS CHRISTI 56
A&M-CORPUS CHRISTI (6-12,2-5 Southland)
Jordan Hairston 5-11 0-0 15; Tony Lewis 5-10 4-4 14; Myles Smith 2-10 4-4 9; Elijah Schmidt 3-3 0-0 6; Jashawn Talton 3-11 0-0 6; Peyton Smith 1-1 0-0 3; Irshaad Hunte 1-2 0-0 3; Perry Francois 0-1 0-0 0; Javae Lampkins 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 20-52 8-8 56.
SOUTHEASTERN LA (5-12,2-4 Southland)
Byron Smith 3-5 9-9 16; Maxwell Starwood 6-14 0-0 12; Brewer, Ty 4-12 2-2 11; Maxim Romanov 4-6 0-1 9; Diop, Pape 1-4 3-7 5; Caldwell, Nick 1-7 2-2 4; Isiah Kirby 1-4 1-2 3; Gonzalez, Brandon 1-3 0-0 2; Julien, Von 0-2 0-0 0.
Totals 21-57 17-23 62.
A&M-Corpus Christi………… 28 28 – 56
Southeastern La……………….. 26 36 – 62
3-point goals–A&M-Corpus Christi 8-23 (Jordan Hairston 5-9; Irshaad Hunte 1-1; Peyton Smith 1-1; Myles Smith 1-4; Javae Lampkins 0-2; Jashawn Talton 0-5; Tony Lewis 0-1), Southeastern La 3-16 (Maxim Romanov 1-2; Brewer, Ty 1-2; Byron Smith 1-3; Caldwell, Nick 0-2; Isiah Kirby 0-1; Gonzalez, Brandon 0-2; Julien, Von 0-1; Diop, Pape 0-1; Maxwell Starwood 0-2). Fouled out–A&M-Corpus Christi-Peyton Smith, Southeastern La-None. Rebounds–A&M-Corpus Christi 39 (Tony Lewis 12), Southeastern La 34 (Brewer, Ty 7). Assists–A&M-Corpus Christi 12 (Jashawn Talton 4), Southeastern La 8 (Julien, Von 5). Total fouls–A&M-Corpus Christi 18, Southeastern La 13. Technical fouls–A&M-Corpus Christi-None, Southeastern La-None. A-570

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