Lions secure SLC Tournament’s No. 3 seed with dominant win at HCU

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Lions Secure Tournament’s #3 Seed with Dominant Win

HOUSTON, Texas – The Southeastern Louisiana University men’s basketball team scored the first nine points and never looked back as the Lions officially locked down the #3 seed in the Jersey Mike’s 2023 Southland Conference Basketball Championship presented by by knocking off the Houston Christian Huskies 80-64 in the final game of the regular season Wednesday night at Sharp Gymnasium.

Southeastern got to work inside early as Brody Rowbury was fouled on a put back attempt on SLU’s first possession and converted both free throws to give the Lions a lead they would never relinquish. Roger McFarlane and Rowbury both scored on layups to make it 6-0 before McFarlane decided to go outside and hit a three-pointer to give the Lions the 9-0 lead just 2:30 into the contest.

After HCU finally broke the seal on their end, Alec Woodard got the lead to double digits for the first time as he converted an old-fashioned three-point play for a 12-2 SLU lead. Nick Caldwell added two more points to it for a 12-point lead before the Huskies got a three-pointer to get the SLU lead back down to nine points. That three was answered by a three by Woodard, putting the lead back up to 12 points and it would not fall below double figures the rest of the way.

The lead hit 20 points for the first time just a bit more than 10:30 into the contest as McFarlane hit a three-pointer, giving the Lions a 27-7 advantage. After a Huskies turnover, Rowbury got to the bucket for a layup and a 29-7 lead with less than nine minutes remaining in the first half. With less than six minutes remaining in the period and Southeastern leading 36-14, HCU scored eight straight to cut the lead down to 14 points at 36-22 with less than 3:30 left in the period. However, a Boogie Anderson layup kicked off a half-ending 11-2 run by SLU which ended with another pair of Rowbury free throws giving Southeastern its largest lead of the game right at the break, 47-24.

HCU started the second half quickly, scoring the first five points of the period as part of an 8-2 spurt to cut the lead down to 17 before another McFarlane three pushed the lead back up to 20. A layup by Anderson got the lead back up to 23 points at 55-32 with 16 minutes left in the contest.

However, the Huskies made one more push to get back into the game, going on a 16-4 run to make it an 11-point game, 59-48, with 10 minutes left in the contest. But the Lions allowed the Huskies to get no closer, slowly pushing the lead back up to 17 points on a jumper by Anderson with just less than five minutes left and matched that with just more than 90 seconds left after a turnaround jumper by McFarlane. With the decision no longer in doubt, a Matthew Strange three pushed the lead up to 18 on SLU’s last full offensive possession with less than 30 seconds left before HCU scored the game’s final bucket for the final margin.

McFarlane led the way for the Lions with 17 points as he hit three three-pointers, grabbed eight rebounds, had three assists, and was credited with three steals. Rowbury picked up his fifth double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds to go with two blocks and a steal. Anderson filled up the box score with 15 points, six rebounds, six assists, a block, and a steal. Nick Caldwell finished the game with 10 points, eight rebounds, and two steals.

The key to Southeastern’s early success was turnovers as SLU ended up forcing 17 turnovers and turned it into 24 points in the game while the Lions turned the ball over 11 times with HCU turning those miscues into just 11 points. SLU’s work inside was also key as the Lions grabbed 13 offensive rebounds and scored 13 second chance points off of them while the Huskies got five offensive rebounds and got just three second chance points.

With the win, the Lions (18-13, 12-6 SLC) will enter next week’s Jersey Mike’s 2023 Southland Conference Basketball Championships presented by as the #3 seed. Southeastern’s first game in the tournament will be played at 7:30 p.m. on Mon., March 6th against the winner of Sunday’s game between these #6 seed HCU Huskies (10-21, 7-11 SLC) and #7 seed New Orleans Privateers (10-19, 7-11 SLC). The tournament will be played at the Legacy Center in Lake Charles and will be streamed on ESPN+.

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