LANCASTER, TX – A sluggish start Saturday by Southern Arkansas led to a tight 65-60 loss to Newman in non-conference basketball.
The game was part of the Great American Conference/Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Challenge at Cedar Valley College.
In the first half, Newman tallied a dozen second-chance points as it grabbed eight of their 15 rebounds in the half on the offensive glass. For the Muleriders, three second chance points came on just five offensive boards as the unit was out-rebounded 23-14 in the opening 20 minutes. The Jets led 30-23 at the intermission.
Southern Arkansas improved offensively in the second half, shooting 52.0 percent (13-of-25) from the floor, including a 5-of-11 clip from beyond-the-arc.
Four players made their collegiate debut for the Muleriders in the loss and helped SAU rally in the second half as the largest lead for NU stood at 11 with 16:24 to play.
Guards Josh Upke, Ray Fresh and Kamren Roelke and forward Trent Ivy all saw their first minutes of action for SAU, while junior transfer Dru Smith took the floor for the first time as a Mulerider.
With the Jets leading by 11, a line change pushed Fresh, Roelke, Smith, Ivy and freshman Zak Blue-Shagourie onto the court and the group helped tightened the clamps on Newman. Over the next five and a half minutes, the Muleriders went on an 11-3 run to pull within 41-38 at the 10:40 mark.
Southern Arkansas got within four points of the lead two more times during the next five minutes as the largest Newman lead during that time grew to 10 points. Ivy knocked down a jumper with 5:19 to play and free throws from Thomas cut the deficit to six points at 52-46. After a steal from Thomas, Brown found J. Brooks for three from the corner with 4:16 remaining as the Muleriders pulled to within three of the Newman lead at 52-49.
The Jets managed to build an eight-point lead with 90 seconds left and held off the Muleriders late as Smith scored five points during that time, including a three that made it 64-60 with 27 seconds to play.
Junior Aaron Lucas led SAU with nine points and added four assists and two steals. Three players, DeVante Brooks, Jalen Brooks and Charlie Thomas, all followed with eight points. True freshman Dodge Brown divvied out six assists.
Southern Arkansas prepares for its 2019-20 home opener on Wednesday. The Muleriders welcome Union into the W.T. Watson Center for a 7 p.m. tip-off.
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