Southeast Missouri (8-13, 3-3) overcame a slow start by shooting 61.5 percent in the second half to get by SIU Edwardsville (5-15, 0-6),
79-76, Thursday night at the Show Me Center.
SIUE, which is last in the Ohio Valley Conference, suffered its sixth-straight loss and 12th defeat in 13 contests.
“I was proud of our guys for grinding this one out,” said SEMO head coach Rick Ray. “It was truly a team win. Nobody had an individual agenda and everyone that stepped on the court contributed.”
SEMO, after not holding a lead in the first half, used a 16-2 run to get ahead of the Cougars and never turned back.
Freshman Tahj Eaddy knocked down a pair of free throws to give the Redhawks their first lead at 38-36 with 17:31 remaining. Antonius Cleveland’s layup widened SEMO’s lead to double-digits (49-39) a little over four minutes later. Denzel Mahoney’s jumper then capped the surge as the Redhawks grabbed a 47-38 advantage.
SIUE shot a mere 1-of-9 from the floor during SEMO’s big run.
The Cougars tightened things up in the final 27 seconds. Down, 78-64, SIUE went on a 12-1 run before coming up short.
Both teams struggled to find a rhythm in a foul-plagued first half.
SEMO missed five of its first six field goals and fell behind, 10-4, in the first 5:10.
The Redhawks battled back to tie the game on two occasions in the last six minutes when Trey Kellum made two free throws (21-21) and Eaddy dropped in a 3-pointer (24-24). Eaddy’s three ended a five-minute stretch where SEMO went without a field goal.
SIUE led, 34-31, at the intermission.
Mahoney led SEMO with 20 points as one of four Redhawks in double figures. He shot 6-of-11 from the field and went 5-of-6 at the free throw line, while getting six rebounds.
Kellum, who made his first start since Dec. 10, added 13 points and a team-high seven boards.
In his first career start, Eaddy netted 13 points, dished out three assists and had two steals. He made a perfect 6-of-6 free throws and is now 21-of-21 at the charity strip this season.
Daniel Simmons pitched in 14 points, pulled down five rebounds and had four assists off the bench.
Cleveland played just 16 minutes due to foul trouble. He fouled out with six points and two rebounds. Cleveland reached 500 rebounds in his career and saw his double-digit scoring streak end at 30 consecutive games.
As a team, SEMO shot 51.1 percent (24-of-47) for the night and made 16-of-26 field goals in the second half alone. The Redhawks made 27-of-36 free throws as a total of 50 fouls were called between the two teams.
Tre Harris led SIUE with a game-high 25 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
The Cougars outrebounded the Redhawks, 44-28, and held a hefty 20-5 advantage on the offensive glass.
SEMO was without starting point guard Jamaal Calvin and forward William Tchiengang. Calvin did not play due to a sprained right foot and Tchiengang was out for eligibility reasons.
The Redhawks host Eastern Illinois Saturday. Tip-off is set for 4:15 p.m., CT. SEMO is on a four-game winning streak at home and owns a 7-2 record at the Show Me Center this year.