Lions surge past Demons in second half, win 73-66

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NATCHITOCHES, La. – Southeastern Louisiana out-scored Northwestern State 46-31 in the second half, highlighted by an 18-0 run, to rally for a 73-66 Southland Conference victory in Prather Coliseum Thursday night.

The Lions (14-13, 7-7 Southland) overcame a 12-point first-half deficit in breaking a three-game losing streak.

Junior guard Davon Hayes had his 18th double-digit scoring game of the season with a game-high 21 points. Sophomore guard Marlain Veal dished out a career-high 10 assists to go with 11 points for his first career double-double. Junior forward Eddy Polanco added 13 points and seven rebounds. Senior center Dominic Nelson grabbed a team-high nine rebounds and blocked two shots to move into fifth place on the Lions’ all-time season list with 55.

Southeastern shot 48.3 percent, including 54.3 percent in the second half, and out-rebounded the Demons 46-30.

Northwestern State (9-15, 3-10 Southland), which dropped its sixth straight, had three players in double figures as Iziahiah Sweeney scored 13 points, Sabri Thompson 11 and Ishmael Lane 10. Tra’von Joseph led the Demons with nine rebounds. NSU shot 38.6 percent.

Hayes drove in for a pair of layups as Southeastern cut a 35-27 halftime deficit to 40-36 with 17:10 remaining. Sweeney went in for a layup to push the lead back to 44-36 at the 16:17 mark.

Veal found Hayes for a dunk to start the 18-0 run for the Lions. Junior guard Jabbar Singleton dropped in a 3 and junior forward James Currington scored on a layup to make it 44-43 with 13:12 left. Currington then took a tipped pass from Hayes in to give Southeastern its first lead at the 12:12 mark. Veal scored three straight baskets and Polanco added a 3 to extend the Lions’ advantage to 54-44 with 10:10 remaining.

Jordan Bell ended the drought for Northwestern State with a 3 from the right wing at the 9:50 mark. Another 3 by Devonte Hall made it 55-52 with 7:07 left. Currington came back with a pair of layups before Sweeney hit a 3 for the Demons. Sophomore forward Moses Greenwood then scored off a steal by Veal and sophomore guard Dimi Cook found Hayes down court for another layup to give the Lions a 63-55 with 4:21 remaining.

Bell spun inside to get NSU to within 69-65 with 43 seconds left. But Singleton, Veal and Hayes hit free throws to hold off the Demons.

Northwestern State hit four of its first six shots in taking a 13-4 lead on a 3-pointer by Thompson with 15 minutes left. Hayes had a layups and a hook shot for the Lions’ points over the stretch.

Thompson hit another 3 for a 16-4 Demon lead at the 12:55 mark. But Veal drove in for a layup and Polanco converted a three-point play to cap a 7-0 run for Southeastern with 10:30 left in the half. NSU went back up 23-12 on a 3 by Lane from the top of the key with 7:47 remaining. The Lions again answered with a Polanco putback and Hayes layup to pull to within 23-16 with 7:01 left.

Lane drove in for a dunk and Sweeney hit a 3 to give the Demons a 33-22 lead at the 2:41 mark. Freshman guard Chris Mejia knocked down a 3 with 42 seconds left to make it 35-27 at the half.

Southeastern returns home Saturday to host Stephen F. Austin at 5 p.m. in the University Center. Nelson will be honored in a pregame Senior Day ceremony. Saturday is also Alumni Day, as all former Lions are invited to be honored at halftime of the contest.

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    Lions roar back, dump Demons 73-66

Michael Kiral

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