Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and MLK Day all came and went without a win from the Southeastern men’s team.
They weren’t about to add Groundhog Day to the list.
The Savage Storm saw Urald King step up with a gut-check double-double to spark a 64-58 home victory over Arkansas Tech on Sunday. King was good for 20 points and pulled down 18 rebounds, playing all 40 minutes of the game.
“Tonight we finished the game. That was the difference, we buckled down and defended,” said SE Coach Kelly Green. “And we’ve played like this for 35 minutes each night we’ve been out.”
But it was the last five minutes, when the Storm saw leads and opportunities evaporate, which contributed to a 10-game slide dating back to Nov. 26, 2013. And it was happening again on Sunday.
SE quickly built a 14-point lead in the first half and summarily watched it dip to a single digit by the break. It built back up to five points before the Wonder Boys went on a 10-point spurt to swing the game.
“I thought, here we go again,” Green said. “So we challenged ourselves. And we had a couple guys step up and we battled through it. We got a defensive stop, came out and scored and got back into the game.”
Green credits King and John Balwigaire for inspiring the team into a six-point turnaround. SE took a 56-55 lead and King blocked a Tech shot, but moments later a thundering dunk from Tech’s Marshawn Arnold gave the visitors the lead.
It was King to the rescue again in the final minute, cleaning up beneath the basket for a 58-57 Storm lead. Arkansas Tech was forced to foul to manage the clock and King (4-4) and Taylor Smaller (2-2) were perfect from the line in the closing seconds.
Darius Harris had 13 points, four assists and seven boards in the game; Daichi Taniguchi scored 10; Smaller had nine points and eight assists; Anton Cook scored eight; Balwigaire had four; Trevor Jackson had three of the Storm’s seven blocked shots.
SE moves to 5-10 on the season and 3-7 in the conference, moving them up to the eighth and final tournament slot with a Ouachita Baptist (3-8) loss. Ten games remain on the schedule, starting with a road trip to Arkansas this Thursday against OBU.
Reach Zach Maxwell at (580)924-4388 or on Twitter@SportsMaxwell