HAMMOND, La. – Southeastern Louisiana junior guard Eddy Polanco scored 18 of his career-high 21 points in the first half as the Lions extended their home winning streak with an 85-75 victory over Maryland Eastern Shore in the University Center Wednesday night.
Southeastern (5-3) pushed its home winning streak to 11 games, its longest streak in the University Center since a 23-game streak from Feb. 23, 2003 to Feb. 5, 2005. The Lions have not lost at home since a 75-71 setback against Incarnate Word on Jan. 16.
Southeastern, coming off a three-game road trip to UTEP, Colorado State and California, had to overcome a 10-point first-half deficit and hold off a spirited run by Eastern Shore (0-7) in the second half.
Polanco finished 5-of-9 from the field, including 4-of-6 on 3-pointers, and 7-of-9 from the line in eclipsing his previous best of 15 set at Colorado State last Wednesday. He also set a career high with nine rebounds and tied his best with three assists. Sophomore guard Marlain Veal added 17 points, four assists and three steals. Junior guard Davon Hayes went 10-of-13 from the line in contributing 15 points, six rebounds and three assists. Senior center Dominic Nelson pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds. The Lions shot 42.9 percent (21-of-49) from the field, including 11-of-22 on 3s.
Eastern Shore was led by Ryan Anino with 17 points. Bakari Copeland added 16 points and eight rebounds. Dontae Caldwell had 10 rebounds as the Hawks won the rebounding battle, 39-38, while shooting 39.1 percent from the field.
Southeastern took a 16-point lead into the half but watched as Eastern Shore got it down to five in the second half. The Hawks opened the half on a 13-3 run, highlighted by 3s by Andino, Thomas Rivera and Michael Chambers, to pull to within 48-42 with 14:16 remaining. The Lions’ only basket during that stretch was a Nelson layup at the 16:05 mark.
Veal took a steal in to push the lead back to 51-42 with remaining. Junior guard Jabbar Singleton knocked down a 3 to get it back to 10 but Rivera answered with a 3 on the ensuing possession. Two Chambers free throws brought Eastern Shore to within 54-49 at the 11:34 mark.
Veal again answered, driving the right baseline for a layup, then beating the shot clock with a long 3 from the right wing to give Southeastern a 59-49 lead at the 10:05 mark. A Polanco jumper from the right baseline made it 67-54 with 5:24 left.
Eastern Shore again rallied, getting to within 67-49 on a 3 by Andino. Andino then grabbed a steal at midcourt and drove in, but missed the layup. Polanco grabbed a layup and threw the length of the court to an open Nelson for a dunk. Veal scored on another breakaway following a Hayes rebound on the ensuing possession, extending the lead to 71-59 with 3:56 left.
A Logan McIntosh layup brought the Hawks to with 75-68 at the 1:52 mark. But Southeastern broke the press with Veal converting a three-point play to make it 78-68 with 1:41 remaining. Eastern Shore got no closer than nine the rest of the way.
Polanco hit 4-of-5 3-pointers and was 6-for-6 from the line in the first half as Southeastern overcame an 8-0 deficit. The Lions finished the half on a 20-4 run to take a 45-29 lead at the break.
Eastern Shore jumped out to an 8-0 lead behind 3s by Andino and Copeland. Southeastern got on the board at the 17:20 mark on a putback by Nelson. The Hawks built a 13-3 lead on an Andino 3 with 14:46 left but a pair of 3s by Singleton and one by Polanco helped the Lions pull to within 15-12 at the 12:03 mark.
Sophomore guard Dimi Cook hit the first of two free throws to tie the game at 17 with 10:33 remaining. Cook then knocked down a 3 from the left corner off a pass from Polanco to give the Lions their first lead at 20-19 at the 9:21 mark. Eastern Shore responded with jumpers by Copeland and Deven Dorsett to regain a 23-20 lead with 8:01 left. After Polanco tied the game with a 3, Veal gave Southeastern a 27-25 lead with a layup off a steal with 5:44 remaining.
The Lions went up 32-26 on a Polanco 3 at the 4:06 mark. Hayes followed with a 3 and Polanco drained his fourth of the half to extend the lead to 38-27, forcing Eastern Shore to use a timeout with 2:16 left in the half. A 3 by freshman guard Michael Corchiani gave Southeastern its biggest lead of the half at 45-27 with 28 seconds left. Copeland broke a 3:37 scoreless spell for the Hawks with two free throws with 3 seconds remaining.
Southeastern travels to Louisiana Tech Saturday for a 7 p.m. tip-off.