CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.
– Antonius Cleveland
scored a game-high 24 points and Southeast Missouri (7-12, 2-2) fought off a big run late to beat Tennessee Tech (7-12, 3-1), 83-78, Tuesday night at the Show Me Center.
SEMO, which handed TTU its first Ohio Valley Conference loss of the season, beat the Golden Eagles for the fourth time in five meetings.
"It's really good to get some learning lessons from a win like this," said SEMO head coach Rick Ray
. "I thought we lost our head a little bit. However, the fact that we were so effective at the free throw line is what made the difference in the game."
The Redhawks led, 71-55, with 6:26 remaining before TTU went on an 18-4 run and pulled to within two on a 3-pointer by Kajon Mack with 1:54 to go. SEMO committed four of its 12 second-half turnovers during that stretch.
SEMO, however, made six free throws in the final 1:38 to hang on.
sunk two free throws to put the Redhawks ahead, 77-73, following Mack's trifecta.
After Simmons later missed a 3-pointer, Jaylen Benton
came down with a huge offensive rebound and Cleveland went to the line. Cleveland buried two more free throws to give the Redhawks a 79-74 lead with 35 seconds.
Mack made a jumper to cut SEMO's lead to three twice in the last 30 seconds, but a jumper by Simmons and two free throws by Tahj Eaddy
put the win on ice.
Cleveland did not miss a field goal and the Redhawks shot a season-high 60.5 percent (26-of-43) from the field.
SEMO led, 25-23, with 8:23 remaining and used a 13-3 run to open a double-digit lead. Benton, Jamaal Calvin
, Trey Kellum
and Simmons all scored before Cleveland's jumper gave the Redhawks a 38-26 advantage.
Cleveland scored 17 points on 7-of-7 field goals in the first half as SEMO took a 46-34 lead at intermission, its largest halftime lead this season.
A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Cleveland scored 20 or more points for the eighth time this year. He also added seven rebounds, one assist, a block, one steal and made 9-of-9 field goals in 34 minutes.
"Antonius did a great job of not settling," said Ray. "He has that ability to hang in the air and make plays."
Eaddy and Simmons followed with 13 and 11 points, respectively, off the bench. Mahoney scored 10 for the Redhawks, as well.
SEMO shot 83.3 percent at the free throw line with its 25-of-30 marking a season-high. The Redhawks outrebounded TTU, 32-28, and had 29 defensive boards.
Mason Ramsey led the Golden Eagles with 19 points and six rebounds.
In all, 54 fouls were called between the two teams. Kellum, Mahoney and Ramsey each fouled out.
SEMO won its third-straight game at home and improved to 6-2 at the Show Me Center.
The Redhawks begin OVC inner-divisional play at UT Martin Saturday.