LSUE wins OT thriller at East Mississippi in Region XXIII quarterfinals

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EUNICE, La. – Isaiah Payne gave a performance to remember as the sophomore guided LSU Eunice to a 76-73 overtime win over East Mississippi on the road Tuesday in the Region 23 Quarterfinals. The Bengals (19-6 overall) improved their current win streak to 13 games.

The Pine Prairie High product scored 7 of the Bengals’ 10 points in overtime including two critical free throws with 4.7 seconds left to seal the victory over the MACCC Tournament Champions. Jordan Hayes would send his teammates into celebration with a steal in the backcourt to end the game.

Payne tallied a season-high 31 points including 18 in the second half and overtime. Jordan Hayes also enjoyed his best scoring performance of the season pouring in 19 points.

The Bengals fell behind early to the Lions, trailing in the first half by as many as seven. A late flurry would see the Bengals take their first lead and head into the locker room knotted up with EMCC 29-29.

LSUE used a 15-2 run midway through the second half to break a 43-43 tie and take a commanding 58-45 lead with 7:13 left in regulation. The Bengals would use three-pointers by Payne, Hayes, Bryce Roberts and Moses Nuangki in that span to take the largest lead for either team in the game.

Nuangki scored nine points off the bench, all coming in the second half.

East Mississippi fight back, clawing back and tying the game with 23.6 seconds in regulation. A last second drive by Payne would fall short, setting the stage for the overtime win.

The Bengals victory spoiled a career-best 36 points from EMCC’s Jakorie Smith.

LSUE now turns its attention to the Region 23 Semifinals and top-seed Pearl River. The Bengals will tangle with the nation’s 16th ranked team on the campus of Mississippi College this Friday.

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