Lions overcome 12-point deficit to top ACU

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ABILENE, Texas – Southeastern Louisiana overcame a 12-point first-half lead to snap a two-game losing streak with a 56-50 Southland Conference win at Abilene Christian Thursday night in Moody Coliseum.

The 12-point deficit was the largest Southeastern (10-8, 3-2 Southland) has overcome this season. The Lions, who completed a season sweep of Abilene Christian (7-9, 1-4 Southland) also won their first game of the season in nine tries when they trailed at the half and picked up their 10th win on the second earliest date in school history. The 2004-05 team won its 10th on Jan. 8.

Junior forward James Currington scored 13 points while grabbing a career-high 12 rebounds. Sophomore guard Marlain Veal also scored 13 points and had seven assists. Junior guard Jabbar Singleton had nine points, including a 3-pointer at the start of the half to give the Lions their first lead. Sophomore forward Moses Greenwood and junior forward Eddy Polanco had eight points apiece. Southeastern shot 37.3 percent from the field but out-rebounded Abilene Christian 42-28, including 17-6 on the offensive boards.

“It was a really odd game,” Southeastern head coach Jay Ladner said. “We got off to a very slow start and they had a lot to do with it. They’re very well-coached defensively and we struggled to shoot the ball. It looked for a while like I didn’t know if we would score. But we finally broke through and started showing a little more patience and getting the ball down inside. I was just proud of the guys for the way they hung in there under adversity. It wasn’t the prettiest game but I’m proud that we won and beat a team that just beat Stephen F. Austin here. That’s a good win for Southeastern.”

Abilene Christian was led by Jaren Lewis with 12 points and nine rebounds. Jalone Friday contributed 10 points and eight rebounds. Payten Ricks had nine points.

Southeastern trailed 26-25 at the half but Singleton hit a 3 from the left side on the opening possession of the second half to give the Lions their first lead. A Ricks layup tied the game but Polanco responded with a 3 from the left corner and Greenwood drove the lane to put the Lions up 33-28 at the 16:48 mark. Greenwood then found Currington inside to close out an 8-0 run that gave Southeastern a 36-28 lead with 15:32 left.

Trey Lenox knocked down a 3 to end a 2:24 drought for Abilene Christian at the 15:01 mark. But sophomore guard Dimi Cooks drove the length of the court with a steal and junior guard Davon Hayes drained a 3 from the top of the key to extend Southeastern’s lead to 41-31 with 12:01 left.

A three-point play by Currington made it 46-33 with 8:59 remaining. But the Wildcats, who went over eight minutes without a field goal, used a pair of Isaiah Tripp free throws and a 3 by Friday to pull to within 46-40 with 6:23 left. Veal ended a 4:37 stretch without a field goal for the Lions with a layup to make it 51-44 at the 4:22 mark.

ACU started pressing, leading to a pair of steals and two Lewis layups that cut the Lion lead to 51-49 with 1:28 left. But Veal nailed a jumper from the top of the key with a minute left. The Wildcats then missed a pair of 3s and Currington hit two free throws to make it 55-49 with 14.5 seconds left.

Abilene Christian got out to a 7-0 lead on a layup by Diamonte Langston at the 14:57 mark. Southeastern missed its first seven shots and turned the ball over six times before getting its first field goal on a layup by Currington off a pass from freshman guard Michael Corchiani with 13:12 remaining.

Ricks answered with a 3 to give the Wildcats a 10-2 lead with 12:20 left. After a Polanco layup, Hayden Farquhar hit another 3 to make it 13-4 at the 10:03 mark. Greenwood scored off a Hayes pass inside to cut the deficit to seven but a Friday 3 built the lead up to 20-8 with 7:14 remaining.

Polanco and Singleton knocked down 3s to pull Southeastern to within 22-16 at the 3:17 mark. A Currington putback capped a 10-0 run that made it 22-20 with 2:19 left. Ricks ended a 2:34 drought for ACU with a jumper at the 2:04 mark. But Singleton buried a 3 from the right wing and Greenwood grabbed a rebound and tossed in a jumper with 4 seconds left to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 26-25 at the half.

Southeastern opens a three-game homestand versus McNeese on Sunday at 3 p.m. The game will feature a Cane’s Challenge. If the Lions score 60 points or more, fans can take their game tickets or student coupons to either Hammond Raising Cane’s by the close of business on Monday to receive a free combo with the purchase of another of equal or greater value.

Veal, Marlain 2-8 9-11 13; Currington, James 5-6 3-5 13; Singleton, Jabbar 3-9 0-0 9; Polanco, Eddy 3-7 0-0 8; Greenwood, Moses 4-9 0-4 8; Hayes, Davon 1-7 0-0 3; Cook, Dimi 1-3 0-0 2; Nelson, Dominic 0-1 0-3 0; Corchiani, Michael 0-1 0-0 0; Mejia, Chris 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-51 12-23 56.

Lewis, Jaren 3-9 6-8 12; Friday, Jalone 3-8 2-2 10; Ricks, Payten 4-9 0-0 9; Tripp, Isaiah 0-2 6-6 6; Franklin, Jaylen 2-5 1-8 5; Lenox, Trey 1-3 0-0 3; Farquhar, Hayden 1-1 0-0 3; Langston, Diamante 1-4 0-1 2; Howell, Hayden 0-0 0-0 0; Maxwell, B.J. 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-41 15-25 50.
Southeastern La…………… 25 31 – 56
Abilene Christian…………. 26 24 – 50
3-point goals–Southeastern La. 6-22 (Singleton, Jabbar 3-8; Polanco, Eddy 2-5; Hayes, Davon 1-5; Veal, Marlain 0-4), Abilene Christian 5-17 (Friday, Jalone 2-5; Ricks, Payten 1-4; Farquhar, Hayden 1-1; Lenox, Trey 1-2; Langston, Diamante 0-2; Franklin, Jaylen 0-1; Tripp, Isaiah 0-1; Lewis, Jaren 0-1). Fouled out–Southeastern La.-Currington, James, Abilene Christian-Franklin, Jaylen. Rebounds–Southeastern La. 42 (Currington, James 12), Abilene Christian 28 (Lewis, Jaren 9). Assists–Southeastern La. 13 (Veal, Marlain 7), Abilene Christian 8 (Tripp, Isaiah 3). Total fouls–Southeastern La. 21, Abilene Christian 27. Technical fouls–Southeastern La.-TEAM, Abilene Christian-Franklin, Jaylen. A-1217

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