DURANT, Okla. - Everything had to go right for the Southeastern men’s basketball team if they wanted to see the post-season.
First, they had to take care of business at home with a win over Harding, and they needed Ouachita Baptist to lose.
Well, the basketball gods smiled down on Southeastern, because both happened and they are in the GAC Conference Tournament.
Now Southeastern will travel to Bartesville to play against Arkansas Tech, set time for the game has not been determined.
The win over Harding lifted the team to 9-17 on the year and 6-14 in Great American Conference play.
Taylor Smaller sank a pair of free throws with seven seconds to play and two Harding three-point tries were off the mark as the Savage Storm picked up the 83-80 win in the regular season finale on Saturday afternoon in Bloomer Sullivan Arena.
Saturday’s game was senior day for seniors Urald King, John Balwigaire and Travis Timmons.
The victory also gives the team hope at continuing its season as they await the outcome of the Ouachita Baptist game at Arkansas-Monticello on Saturday afternoon.
A win by UAM would allow the Storm to take the eight seed in the postseason tournament and would put SE in a March 6 matchup with either Arkansas Tech or Southwestern Oklahoma State as the number one seed in a 5:45 p.m. game in Bartlesville, Okla.
Southeastern put four players in double-figures in the game, including a pair of 20-point scorers.
Taylor Smaller posted a team-high 21 points, shooting 7-of-14 from the field, including a 5-of-10 effort from behind the arc.
King turned in his eighth 20 point game, finishing with 20 points even on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor.
Anton Cook came off the bench and nearly gave the team a third 20-point scorer, finishing the night with 18 points on 5-of-7 shooting with a pair of threes.
Balwigaire rounded out the double-digit scoring with 10.
Balwigaire and Smaller each dished out five assists to lead the team.
Darius Harris pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds, while King and Smaller were next up at six each.
SE shot 55.6 percent for the game from the field, including a 52.4 percent mark from long range, hitting 11-of-21 threes.
The Storm took advantage of a 32-22 edge in the paint and a 19-9 advantage in second chance points, while the Bisons held a 6-2 edge in points off turnovers.
SE opened with the game’s first six points and maintained the advantage until HU tied the game at 14-14 with 14:23 to go in the first half.
The teams then traded buckets and the lead until an 8-0 run by the Storm put them in front 27-22 with 9:21 to play.
The Bisons then answered with a 7-0 run to regain the lead, but another 8-0 SE run capped by a Smaller layup would give the team a 34-30 lead with 3:56 to play in the half.
The Bisons would score nine of the last 11 points in the half to take a 39-36 lead into the half.
Harding pushed its lead out to five early in the second half, but back-to-back Taniguchi threes put Southeastern up 46-45.
The teams continued to trade the lead before HU used a pair of threes to offset a King layup and stretch its advantage to 57-53 with 9:53 to play.
SE used an 11-3 run to flip the score and take a 64-60 lead on a Balwigaire three with 7:17 to play.
HU would score the next four points to tie the game at 64-64 with 6:09 to play, but a pair of King free thows and a Smaller three with 5:03 to go put SE up 69-64.
Southeastern would push its lead out to six points three times, the last coming on a pair of Cook free throws with 56 seconds to play.
HU would whittle the Storm advantage down to 81-80 with 11 seconds left, but Smaller drained a pair of free throws with seven second on the clock and a pair of Bison three point tries were off the mark to allow the Storm to hold onto the 83-80 win.