A contest of will and free throws came down to a single free shot made by Steven Kohli as the Southeastern Savage Storm defeated Henderson State 88-87 in double overtime on Saturday.
Kohli was part of a trio of gut-check level performances which included senior Chris Roussell and freshman guard Quinton Threadgill.
Roussell led all scorers with 27 points which included 11-for-11 free throw shooting and nine boards; Threadgill had a break-out game with 25 points and six assists; Kohli scored 18 on 7-for-10 shooting to go with nine rebounds.
The Storm took a 34-21 lead at halftime thanks to three-point shots from Roussell and James Harris (who finished with six on a pair from behind the arc). Early in the second half, Roussell set the tone by connecting on a three, drawing a foul and hitting the free throw for a four-point play – and a 17-point Storm lead, their largest.
But the Reddies (10-9, 5-8 in GAC) sneaked back into the game and were within six in the final three minutes. Peri James came off the bench for 20 for HSU, including 11-for-12 at the stripe and a layup which forced the overtime.
Melvin Haynes led the Reddies with 26 points, but he was one of three HSU starters to foul out. Henderson shot 19-for-21 at the line, but the foul trouble gave Southeastern more free shots, as they hit 27 of 34.
Southeastern breaks a three-game slide and is now 11-8 on the season with seven games left on the schedule. The Storm’s 7-6 record among Great American Conference foes puts them in the thick of the race for the second-best win-loss percentage in the 11-team field.
Southeastern has a pair of road games this week on Thursday at Arkansas-Monticello (11-7, 6-6) and Saturday against Southern Arkansas (7-11, 3-9).
Southeastern’s ladies got back into the win column Saturday with a 74-65 win over Henderson State.
Four Savage Storm women reached double figures, including a 20-point night for sophomore Cheree Kiser off the bench to lead the way.
The mild-mannered Gainesville, Texas, native showed plenty of emotion against the Reddies in a physical scrum, but kept her head and nailed some big second-half shots which helped hold off HSU rallies.
“I just went out and played hard, it’s fun for me,” Kiser said. “I’m always excited to be able to have a leadership role on this team.”
She was 7-of-9 from the field, including 3-for-3 from behind the arc, scoring her 20 points in just 24 minutes of action.
“She’s just smooth, laid back and relaxed, sometimes to her downfall,” said Southeastern women’s basketball Coach Darin Grover. “There was a physical play, but she still maintained her focus and did her job.”
Grover was most pleased with his team’s 10 turnovers, as well as 19 assists to Henderson State’s eight. Bailey Welch had six of those helpers to go with 15 points. She was cold from the field (2-11) but a shiny 10-for-10 at the free throw line.
“We played very efficiently and didn’t let the pressure bother us,” Grover said. “With experience, you gain focus. The more games and practice these ladies get, the better they will maintain their focus and stay consistent.”
The all-around effort by the Savage Storm included 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists for Emily Williams, 10 points and nine boards for Haley Schaefer, and five points and four assists for Taylor Richards of Durant.
Southeastern (7-12 overall) is locked in a struggle to clinch a spot in next month’s Great American Conference post-season tournament. Saturday’s victory has the Storm and Reddies tied at 5-8, virtually tied for the sixth seed with seven games remaining.
The Savage Storm has two road games in Arkansas this week before returning to Bloomer Sullivan Arena on Feb. 14 against Northwestern Oklahoma.