Lions clinch tournament berth with last-minute win at UNO

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NEW ORLEANS, La. – Southeastern Louisiana junior Davon Hayes hit a 3-pointer with 43 seconds left, lifting the Lions to a 63-58 Southland Conference victory at New Orleans in the Lakefront Arena Thursday night.

The Lions (16-15, 9-9 Southland), who closed the game on an 11-0 run, clinched their fifth straight trip to the Southland Conference Tournament and their first winning regular season since 2010-11. Southeastern will learn its seeding following Saturday’s final day action. The tournament gets underway Wednesday in Katy, Texas.

New Orleans (17-11, 12-5 Southland), which missed an opportunity to clinch the regular season conference title, took a 58-52 lead on a layup by Travin Thibodeaux with 2:07 left. But sophomore guard Marlain Veal answered with a 3-pointer from the right wing, then grabbed a steal that led to a Hayes 3 from the left side, tying the game at 58 at the 1:38 mark.

After Veal rebounded a missed 3 by Nate Frye, Hayes knocked down a 3 from the left wing, putting Southeastern up 61-58 with 43 seconds remaining. Veal then chased down an errant pass by Thibodeaux and was fouled. He added the two free throws, making it 63-58 with 9.6 seconds left.

Veal finished with a game-high 23 points, nine coming in the final four minutes, to go with six steals and five assists. Hayes contributed 10 points while junior forward Eddy Polanco had eight. Junior forward James Currington grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. Southeastern shot 40 percent, including 52 percent in the second half, and out-rebounded New Orleans 35-32.

Makur Puou led three Privateers in double figures with 13 points. Thibodeaux had 10 points and a game-high nine points, while Erik Thomas contributed 10 points and six assists. New Orleans shot 44.9 percent for the game.

The Privateers took a 27-23 lead at the half. Hayes drove the right baseline for a dunk to keep Southeastern within 30-26 with 17:43 left. But that would be the Lions’ only field goal over the first five minutes of the half. Christavious Gill hit a well-contested 3 as the shot clock wound down to give New Orleans a 35-28 lead at the 16:10 mark.

A Veal layup and a hook by sophomore forward Moses Greenwood in the lane cut the deficit to 36-34 with 13:41 remaining. But Frye responded with a 3 and Thomas hit a jumper for a 41-34 Privateer lead with 12:24 left. Frye and Tevin Broyles followed with 3s, giving the Privateers their biggest lead at 47-36 with 10:57 remaining.

After Gill hit a jumper to make it 49-39 at the 8:56 mark, Southeastern went on a 13-2 run. Polanco hit a three and two free throws and Veal went in for three straight layups, the third off a steal that gave the Lions a 52-51 lead with 3:25 left.

New Orleans hit five free throws, the last two by Thomas, to take a 56-52 lead with 2:50 left.
Both teams got off to a fast start before cooling off before the half. Veal hit a pair of 3s to give Southeastern an 8-2 lead at the 16:35 mark. New Orleans countered with a 7-0 run to take a 9-8 lead on a Jorge Rosa layup with 14:37 left.

Polanco hit a jumper on the right baseline and Greenwood scored off a putback to put the Lions back up, 18-15, with 11:13 remaining. Puou hit a jumper from the right wing to tie it at 19 with 8:49 left.

After Greenwood went in for a layup, the Privateers went on an 8-0 run, taking a 27-21 lead on a Thomas layup at the 4:07 mark.

Those would New Orleans’ final points of the half. Veal found Currington driving the right baseline for a dunk with 3:47 left to make it a 27-23 game at the half.

Veal, Marlain 8-15 4-5 23; Hayes, Davon 4-8 0-0 10; Polanco, Eddy 2-10 3-4 8; Greenwood, Moses 3-10 1-2 7; Cook, Dimi 3-6 1-1 7; Currington, James 2-4 2-4 6; Nelson, Dominic 0-1 2-2 2; Corchiani, Michael 0-0 0-0 0; Singleton, Jabbar 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-55 13-18 63.
NEW ORLEANS (17-11, 12-5 SLC)
Puou, Makur 6-8 1-4 13; Thomas, Erik 4-7 2-2 10; Thibodeaux, Travin 3-4 4-4 10; Frye, Nate 3-8 1-2 9; Gill, Christavious 3-9 0-2 8; Rosa, Jorge 2-5 0-0 4; Broyles, Tevin 1-6 0-0 3; Zeno, Michael 0-2 1-2 1. Totals 22-49 9-16 58.
Southeastern La…………… 23 40 – 63
New Orleans………………. 27 31 – 58
3-point goals–Southeastern La. 6-20 (Veal, Marlain 3-8; Hayes, Davon 2-5; Polanco, Eddy 1-5; Singleton, Jabbar 0-1; Cook, Dimi 0-1), New Orleans 5-20 (Gill, Christavious 2-6; Frye, Nate 2-6; Broyles, Tevin 1-4; Rosa, Jorge 0-3; Thomas, Erik 0-1). Fouled out–Southeastern La.-None, New Orleans-None. Rebounds–Southeastern La. 35 (Currington, James 8), New Orleans 32 (Thibodeaux, Travin 9). Assists–Southeastern La. 10 (Veal, Marlain 5), New Orleans 17 (Thomas, Erik 6). Total fouls–Southeastern La. 16, New Orleans 16. Technical fouls–Southeastern La.-TEAM, New Orleans-None. A-1302

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