EDWARDSVILLE – SIUE men's basketball overcame a 15-point deficit on Saturday against Southeast Missouri to win its final home game of the season, 80-76 at First Community Arena.

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SIUE improved its Ohio Valley Conference record to 8-6 and 15-12 overall. SEMO slipped to 8-19 overall with a 3-11 record in the OVC. The Cougars finished with a 12-2 record at First Community Arena-the most home wins for the program since the move to Division I.


"It's a credit to what we did, we didn't hang our heads at all," SIUE Head Coach Brain Barone said. "We did a good job of changing defenses on the fly."


SEMO jumped out to an early 14-7 lead with a fastbreak layup by Marques Bryant. The Redhawks didn't slow down as they stretched their first half to 15 (32-17) on a Rob Martin jump shot.


The Cougars made up some ground, switching to a 2-3 zone with 7:30 left in the first half. SEMO would go on to make just 5 of their next 15 shots. SIUE would take advantage of an 11-2 run over the course of 3:00 to cut the lead to three (37-34).


A jump shot made by Brian Taylor II with 49 seconds left tied the game at 39 going into the halftime break; just the second time the Cougars have been tied at half under Brian Barone at SIUE.


"It's frustrating when you don't play the way you know you can play," Barone said. Then you look up at the scoreboard and it's tied"


The second half featured a similar start to the first half. The Cougars fell behind by nine (50-41) 6:00 minutes into the half yet had another fight in them. SIUE got within one (50-49) on a dunk by Arnas Sakenis. Ray'Sean Taylor gave the Cougars the lead with a three-pointer with 9:51 to play.


The Cougars' biggest lead of the game came on a layup by Arnas Sakenis to make it 68-62 with 5:39 left in the game. The Redhawks used a 14-2 run, capped off by pair of free-throws by Rob Martin to get their lead back to six.


The Cougars held SEMO scoreless for the final 3:07 and finished the game on a 10-0 run. A Shamar Wright shot tied the game at 76, followed by a Minor layup with :14 seconds left to put the Cougars back on top. Minor sealed the game with a pair of free throws.

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"Coach drew a play up for me and I thought that meant a lot," Shamar Wright said. "I couldn't let my team down even though I had a hard night."


Damarco Minor led the charge for the Cougars with a game-high 26 points, his fifth 20-point game of the season. Minor added eight rebounds and three assists.

Ray'Sean Taylor also contributed a 20-point game with 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting from behind the three-point arc while adding 2 points from the free-throw line.


Fifth year Senior Lamar Wright finished the game with 12 points and three rebounds. The Cougars got a big boost off the bench from Arnas Sakenis who finished with a career-high nine points and seven rebounds.


"It was a special game, and these last two home games really meant a lot to me, " Lamar Wright said. "I've met a lot of new people here throughout my five years and those relationships will stay throughout the rest of my life."

SIUE connected on 28-63 (44 percent) from the field and finished 16-22 (73 percent) from the free-throw line.

Southeast Missouri was led by Rob Martin who scored 13 points and grabbed three rebounds while recording a game high 9 assists.


The Redhawks shot 31-64 (48 percent) from the field and connected on 7-21 (33 percent) three pointers. SEMO was perfect at the line going 7-7.


The Cougars outrebounded SEMO with 36 -33.


SIUE will finish the regular season with four games on the road starting with Tennessee Tech on Thursday with tip set for 7:30


"I get on that bus with a group that I trust and believe in. We have to go out and perform, people are going to give us their best shot."

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