by Nick Growall
The Southeastern men’s basketball team earned their first two wins of the season in their home opener against the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma on Tuesday, Nov. 22, and the following game against Missouri Western State on Friday, Nov. 25.
This brings the Storm’s record to 2-5 under first-year head coach Kelly Green.
The win ends the Storm’s four-game losing streak, which started in the season-opener against 8th-ranked Tarelton State on Friday, Nov. 11. In that game, junior forward Urald King recorded a double-double, the first of three already this season, helping Southeastern out-rebound the Texans 38-32. King was also named the first ever Great American Conference player of the week for men’s basketball. The Storm, however, would not be able to make up for falling behind early, losing 61-50.
This would be a recurring theme for the Storm, falling behind again early in their next game against Eastern New Mexico on Saturday, Nov. 12, losing 73-67 despite King and senior guard Zac Downing combing for 37 points.
Downing would go on to score a season-high 27 points in their next game against Arkansas Fort-Smith on Wednesday, Nov. 16, but again found themselves in the hole, trailing 50-27 at the half. Despite a 16-6 run in the second half, the Storm would end up losing 83-71 to the Lions.
In their last game on Saturday, Nov. 19 against St. Edwards, King scored 25 points, while completing his third double-double with 13 rebounds, along with junior forward Dami Sapara, who scored 17 points with 13 rebounds of his own.
Southeastern had four players in double-digits, including senior guard Ivan Johnson with 19 and junior forward Steven Kohli with 10. But they would not be able to outscore the Hilltoppers, losing 100-93.
However, the Storm would find themselves in an unusual position in their game against USAO, leading the Drovers throughout the game. The Storm had four players in double-digits: Sapara with 11 points, King and Downing with 14 points, and Johnson with a team-high 16 points, with the final score 71-61.
“This was something different for our team. We’ve usually been down early and had to fight back into our games, but tonight you could say the shoe was on the other foot,” said Green.
“They fought back into the game, but our team showed great composure in pulling out this win. We did a lot of great things and I’m proud of our effort tonight.”
The Savage Storm followed up their win at home with a 68-49 victory, dominating on the defensive side against Missouri Western State in the St. Mary’s Classic in San Antonio on Friday, Nov. 25.
Sapara led all scorers with 17 points and 14 boards, making it his third double-double of the year. Kohli and King also reached double-digits, scoring 16 and 13 respectively.
However, the Storm lost their second game of the Classic to Angelo State 61-60 on Saturday, Nov. 26, when they allowed the Rams to comeback on a 20-9 run at the end of the game. King picked up his fifth double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds, while Johnson, Kohli and Downing each contributed with 13, 11 and 10 points.
The Storm will pick up play on Thursday, Dec. 1 when the team returns home to face Dallas Baptist at 7:30 p.m. in the Bloomer Sullivan Arena.
Men’s basketball head coach Kelly Green discusses strategy with the team during the home-opener against USAO on Tuesday, Nov. 22. The Storm pulled out the victory 71-61. (Courtesy photo by Dan Hoke)
Senior guard Ivan Johnson (24) charges the goal against an USAO defender on Tuesday, Nov. 22. Johnson had a team-high 16 points for the night in the 71-61 win for SE. (Courtesy photo by Dan Hoke)