ARKADELPHIA, Ark. – Southeastern needed a win on Saturday afternoon to snap a losing skid and even its conference record, so Chris Roussell put the team on his back and the Savage Storm left Arkadelphia, Ark., with a 59-56 victory over Ouachita Baptist.
The win lifts SE to 5-3 overall on the year and 1-1 in Great American Conference play and the team will now return home for its final two games of the fall semester with the first coming Dec. 6 against Arkansas Tech at 7:30 p.m. in Bloomer Sullivan Arena.
Roussell turned in his best and the team’s best game of the season, finishing with 29 points on 10-of-14 shooting with a 5-of-6 effort from behind the three-point line. He has scored in double figures in every game this season, but his effort on Saturday surpasses his season-high to this point by 10 points. He also chipped in six rebounds, and assist and a steal.
While Roussell may have scored nearly half of the team’s points on his own, the ball was in the hands of James Harris as the Storm clung to a 57-56 lead with five seconds remaining.
Harris stepped to the free throw line and, despite making it more interesting that fans would have liked, sunk a pair of free throws, his only two points of the night. He then retreated back down the floor to pressure OBU’s top scorer Micah Delph into missing a potential game tying three.
“I thought our guys did a great job of being resilient,” said head coach Kelly Green following the win. “Tonight we had a couple things go against us. We had 12 turnovers in the first half, but to our guy’s credit, they just kept fighting.”
“Chris Roussell, what a game,” he continued. “Couldn’t be prouder of the effort.”
While Roussell led all scorers and Harris scored the game’s final points, SE also got a nine point and seven rebound outing from Steven Kohli as well as a pair of eight rebound performances from Mateus Oliveira and Andris Misters.
Misters also led the team in assists with four, while Travis Timmons dished out three.
Oliveira’s defense did not stop on the glass as he picked up four blocks in the contest.
Southeastern continued to shoot well, hitting 45.8 percent from the floor and added a 37.5 percent mark from long range, hitting six threes.
The team defense was solid as well, holding the Tigers to 35.5 percent from the floor, however they did hit eight threes in the game.
OBU scored first and maintained the early lead in the game until a Misters’ bucket at the 14:44 mark put the Storm up 11-10.
The Tigers would swipe the lead back and the two teams would trade punches until OBU jumped out to a 26-20 lead with 7:23 to play, taking its largest lead of the contest.
SE would score seven-straight, capped by a Roussell three pointer to take a 27-26 lead with just under five minutes remaining in the half.
OBU would regain the lead by one point before Roussell and the Tigers’ Austin Mitchell would trade three pointers and SE would trail 31-30 at half with neither team scoring in the final 2:08 of the half.
The Storm scored first in the second half and would quickly push its advantage out to 38-33 on a Roussell jumper at the 15:04 mark.
That advantage would grow to eight points at the 11:45 mark when Roussell hit a jumper and the following free throw to put SE in front 44-36.
Seven-straight points from the Tigers would leave the Storm with a one point lead as the teams traded threes before SE gave itself some breathing room with a Timmons jumper and a pair of Roussell free throws to hold a 51-46 lead with 5:33 to play.
OBU would again whittle the lead down to one point, but a jumper from Kohli and another Roussell three pointer left SE in front 57-51 with 1:08 to play.
A Delph three and a Colt Fason jumper with 10 seconds to play would leave that lead at 57-56.
That was when Harris stepped to the line and knocked down a pair of free throws to push the lead back out to three points and when ONU’s final attempt missed its target the Storm could celebrate a 59-56 win.