No. 3 SLU secures last Southland semifinal spot with 79-65 win over No. 7 Central Arkansas
Southeastern Louisiana holds Bears to below 40 percent shooting
KATY, Texas — Southeastern Louisiana’s Moses Greenwood’s love of playing Central Arkansas extended into Thursday’s Southland Conference men’s basketball quarterfinal matchup, and his output Thursday night helped the Lions move one step closer to Saturday’s championship game.
Greenwood scored 22 points and fell one rebound shy of his third double-double this season in as many games against the Bears. The forward led No. 3-seed Southeastern to a 79-65 win over No.7 UCA at the Merrell Center in Katy. The win advances the Lions (17-15) into Friday’s semi-final matchup against No. 2 Abilene Christian at 7:30 p.m. CT.
The All-Southland first team big man was one of just two Lions in double figures, while the depth of Southeastern was on display as 10 players scored at least two points on the way to the team’s ninth win in its last 11 games. Teammate and fellow All-Southland first team member Marlain Veal added 15 points, including a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
“I just bring the same effort every game,” said Greenwood, who recorded his seventh game of at least 20 points in his last nine contests. “It’s about finding my spots, hustling and outrebound the guy that’s guarding me.”
The Lions’ defense looked everything like the second-stingiest scoring defense in the conference, Thursday night, holding UCA (12-19) to under 38 percent shooting from the field. The Bears lagged in the upper 20s in field goal percentage until a late spurt allowed them to trim what was a 20-point deficit with 4:35 remaining.
“They played hard and never quit. They fought it to the end,” said Southeastern coach Jay Ladner of the Bears, who had won five of their last six prior to Thursday night.
UCA played tough in the early going and held an 11-7 lead with 15:44 left in the first half before the Lions went on a 17-7 run that saw them take a 24-18 edge with just under seven minutes before intermission. The Bears were never able to draw within five points and went into the locker room trailing 36-25.
“They really stopped us from getting into the paint and going inside,” said UCA guard Thatch Unruh, who finished with 23 points. “It just became a thing where we were moving the ball outside and we relied on the 3-point shot a lot.”
A Greenwood field goal extended the lead to 41-26 at the 16:45 mark of the second half. UCA’s inability to establish an inside game left them hoisting shots from long range and played a key factor in Southeastern’s 36-22 edge in rebounding.
With the foundation of a big lead in place, the Lions were able to get their bench involved.
“We have confidence in our depth,” said Ladner. “We’ve played a lot of guys throughout the year anyway. There’s really not a player on our bench that we wouldn’t feel confident putting in there and doing his job.”
UCA coach Russ Pennell’s squad endured a seven-game losing streak during conference play, but still managed to play their way into the tourney. Despite the loss of Unruh and Tanner Schmit, the Bears stack up well for a bigger 2019-20 season.
“My message to the guys in the locker room was that while it was a great accomplishment, if you walk away satisfied, then you’ve missed the point.”
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