ALVA, Okla. – Southeastern rallied from a 20-point first-half deficit, but saw its comeback fall just short in a 79-69 loss to Northwestern Oklahoma State on Saturday evening in Alva, Okla.
The loss drops the Savage Storm to 9-5 overall and 5-3 in Great American Conference play. It was the second-straight loss for SE, which has lost consecutive games for the first time since November.
“We didn’t come ready to go,” said head coach Kelly Green. “We got down and it continued to get worse.
“We chipped away in the second. Our whole key was to get the ball inside. We have to establish an inside game and we got away from that.
“Our energy level was low and we looked a little lethargic, Green continued. “They attacked us and got easy baskets. They dumped the ball down low against our zone and we didn’t get out on some shooters.
“In the second half we got the ball down inside and hit some shots and we finally made a few stops. Once we got it back to about a three point game, we just couldn’t close it out.”
It was truly a tale of two halves for Southeastern who, despite scoring the final nine points of the first half, shot 29.6 percent from the floor and 18.2 percent from three point range in the opening half.
That turned sharply in the second where the Storm was more like itself, hitting 53.6 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from long range.
While the offense flipped the switch, the defense was slightly less successful in doing so.
After allowing the Rangers to hit 56.7 percent from the field in the first half, they were able to slow them, but only to a 43.8 percent clip.
The defensive difference for SE was from long range where NWOSU was 5-of-11 in the first half before going 0-for-5 in the second.
Chris Roussell led the team in scoring for the seventh time this season and third in-a-row with 20 points, his second 20-point performance of the season. He also turned in his third double-double of the year with an 11 rebound effort.
Roussel’s 11 rebounds led all players on the glass and helped SE to a 37-to-31 edge in the rebounding battle.
Travis Timmons turned in a game-high six assists, while Roussell dished out four.
NWOSU held a nine-point edge in points off turnovers and outscored the Storm 48-30 in the paint.
The Rangers scored first with a quick 4-0 lead and after the teams traded buckets briefly reeled off a 21-4 run that turned a two point lead into a 29-10 advantage with 12:19 to play in the half.
SE would get a couple shots to fall, but a 9-2 run later would extend the NWOSU lead to 43-20 with 4:59 remaining.
The Storm would answer with the final nine points of the half to trail by a 43-29 margin at intermission.
That momentum carried into the second half where Southeastern opened on a 15-4 run that was capped by an Oliveira jumper in transition to make the score 47-44 in favor of the Rangers.
NWOSU would slowly push its lead back out to nine points, but another SE push would whittle the deficit back to just three points at 63-60 on another Oliveira jumper with 6:08 remaining.
The deficit would bounce between three and five points with the Storm unable to complete the comeback before The Rangers would outscore SE 10-3 over the final three minutes to hand Southeastern the 79-69 loss.