Southeast battles, falters late in latest OVC loss

Southeast Missouri State sophomore forward Sage Tolbert

The Southeast Missouri State dropped another double-digit game within Ohio Valley Conference play Saturday, this time 70-57 at Eastern Kentucky. However, this latest defeat did not follow the Redhawks’ typical pattern.

Southeast (4-19, 0-10 OVC) has made a habit of allowing the opposition to pull away with a big first-half run and then cruise through the second half in a comfortable fashion. But that was not the case against the Colonels (11-12, 8-2).

The Redhawks did allow Eastern Kentucky to tear off on a 10-0 run over the course of 1:17 midway through the first half and take a 21-11 lead. However, Southeast fought back to trail just 34-31 at halftime.

What made this narrow margin surprising was the fact that the Redhawks turned the ball over 13 times in the opening half.

The Colonels have won five consecutive games and their ability to create turnovers, which they do better than any other OVC squad, is a big reason for their success.

That ability showed in the final minutes.

With 6:58 remaining in the game, Southeast junior forward Isaiah Gable drained a 3-pointer to pull his team to within 56-51. However, over the ensuing 5:12, the Redhawks committed three fouls, missed four shots, and turned the ball over four times, all the while Eastern Kentucky was stretching its margin from five points to 15 (70-55).

A bright spot for Southeast was the play of sophomore forward Sage Tolbert, who had the game of his career with career-marks of 19 points and 17 rebounds.

It was a tremendous bounce-back effort after scoring three points and fouling out in 23 minutes against Morehead State Thursday.

Redshirt freshman Jordan Love scored 12 points in his second career start, while Nygal Russell chipped in 10 points and four assists off the bench.

Southeast outrebounded Eastern 40-39 but turned the ball over 18 times while dishing for just 13 assists.

The Redhawks will return home Thursday at 7:15 p.m. to play Jacksonville State.

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