CLEVELAND, MS – Southern Arkansas never trailed on Tuesday night as the Muleriders earned a 72-54 non-conference victory over Delta State to move above .500 at 3-2 on the season.
Southern Arkansas shot 39% from the floor in the first half, but it was the effort by the Muleriders on the defensive end of the floor in the opening twenty minutes that helped staked the visitors to a 31-21 lead at the intermission. SAU forced DSU into a 27% shooting clip overall from the floor in the first half, which included a 1-for-16 rate from beyond-the-arc as the Statesmen missed its first 13 attempts from deep.
The Muleriders jumped out to a 16-4 lead to start the game and saw its largest lead of the half stand at 14 points with 67 seconds remaining before the break. SAU benefitted from a 10-point, six-rebound half from Carel Ray Jr., while Brock Schreiner added seven points, three assists and two boards.
Delta State opened the second half on an 8-4 run highlighted by consecutive makes from three-point range which helped close the deficit to 35-29 at the under-16 media timeout. The Muleriders responded with their best stretch of the game as a 13-2 run over 3:47 following the first media stoppage of the second half pushed SAU out to its largest lead of the evening to that point in the contest at 46-31 with 12:06 to play.
That was more than enough lead for the Muleriders who built its lead to as much as 25 in the second half which came at 64-39 with 7:01 left in the game.
SAU withstood 29 points and nine rebounds from DSU's Sam Smith. Ray Jr. led the Muleriders with a near double-double effort of 19 points and nine rebounds. LaTreavin Black followed with ten points and six rebounds as nine players scored for SAU with six of those registering seven or more points. Gregory Hammond Jr. added seven rebounds as SAU finished +6 in rebounding margin. Jerry Carraway Jr. delivered five assists. Connor Harvey accounted for three of the team's six makes from range.
The Muleriders scored 16 more points inside than the host and crossed over 20 assists for the first time this season.
Southern Arkansas turns its attention to Great American Conference play as the Muleriders open league action on Thursday, December 1 at Henderson State.