A 13-0 run late in the first half helped Southern Arkansas (11-2, 6-1 GAC) knock off East Central University 72-58 Thursday night at the W.T. Watson Athletic Center.
“We didn’t play well in the second half, unlike the first half. All in all, I felt defensively we did a good job,” said Muleriders’ head coach Andy Sharpe.
The victory was the fifth straight for the Muleriders, who continues to share the Great American Conference lead.
“Also, we didn’t rebound well in the second half. Overall, we had a pretty good effort, but we let them hang around,” explained Sharpe.
The Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 advantage early, but Draylen Perkins’ 3-pointer put the Muleriders on top.
Leading 5-2 after the first two minutes, SAU saw East Central score five unanswered points to go up 7-5.
It was the Tigers’ final lead of the game.
Behind several Muleriders, SAU eventually built a 14-point advantage, leading 37-23 at the 4:48 mark.
The margin grew to 18, 44-26, late in the half and the Muleriders led 44-28 at the break.
The Tigers never threatened in the second half, but did manage to cut the lead to 14, 66-52.
A reverse slam by C.J. Elkins evenutally pushed the margin back to 20 as the Muleriders sealed the victory.
“We didn’t have a good flow in the second half. We will have to play the entire 40 minutes to beat Southeastern,” said Sharpe.
The Muleriders will host the Savage Storm, who are two games back in the standings, Saturday afternoon.
Sharpe said Southeastern has good size and shoots the 3-pointer well.
On Thursday, four Muleriders were in double figures, led by Perkins’ 14 points. Wesley Nosakhare had 13, while Elkinis and Aaron Lucas had 11 apiece.
Camron Talley finished with 13 for East Central and Jakeem Acres added 10.
According to Sharpe, his Muleriders will need another good defensive game on Saturday. They held the Tigers to only 36 percent shooting from the field and 13 percent from 3-point range.
“Again, I am a little disappointed that we didn’t play better with the lead,” added Sharpe.
Lady Tigers 76
Lady Muleriders 55
SAU freshman Jerica Bell scored 17 points, but the Lady Muleriders (1-12, 0-7 GAC) fell 76-55 to the East Central Lady Tigers.
East Central knocked down nine 3-pointers in the game, with six coming in the first quarter alone.
The Lady Tigers opened the contest with a long-range jumper, but Bell made it a 3-2 contest during the first minute.
She gave SAU its only lead of the night, 4-3, with a short jumper inside the paint.
Back-to-back 3-pointers and a 10- run helped the Lady Tigers take control.
East Central’s Stefany Lourenco, who also finished with 17 points, hit the jumpers from beyond the arc during the run.
East Central led 20-6 midway through the quarter and was up 28-14 after the first buzzer.
The Lady Muleriders continued to struggle in the second quarter as the visitors used an 8-0 spurt and led 42-27 at the half.
SAU didn’t get any closer than 20 points in the second half.
The Lady Tigers led 61-41 after three quarters and built a 31-point lead midway though the final period before winning by 21.
No other Lady Mulerider scored in double figures, but freshman Ariana Guinn had eight before being injured.
The Lady Muleriders will host Southeastern Oklahoma State Saturday afternoon.
Tip-off is at 1 p.m.