Matt Thomas, Sports Information Director
DURANT – Turnovers proved costly for Southeastern as a first-half lead slipped away in a 73-47 loss to rival East Central on Monday night in Bloomer Sullivan Arena.
The loss drops the Savage Storm to 1-2 overall and in Great American Conference Western Division play heading into its longest road trip of the season when it heads to Northwestern Oklahoma State for a 3 p.m. contest on Jan. 14.
“I thought the first quarter was good,” said head coach Darin Grover. “In the end I thought it was good enough. Defensively we played well and we executed the game plan. Much better than the following three quarters.”
“Right now it’s no secret we are missing a big part of our team,” he continued. “I’m completely thankful we are getting to play, but the kids that are here and playing need to play a whole heck of a lot better than what they did tonight or against SWOSU. We can’t wait for Kam [Cantwell], and Briley [Moon], Chandler Kemp, Casey Monk, and Lauren Beason and those kids. We can’t wait for those kids to get back because this could be how it is all year, where there are kids being inserted back and forth, we don’t know. Yes we have a ton of inexperience, but they’re going to have to grow up quick.”
The turnover bug bit the Storm hard as the Tigers turned 20 miscues into a 31-2 edge in points off turnovers for the contest.
SE had a pair of double-digit scorers as Jordan Benson matched a game-high 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting, while Katie Branam added a 10-point effort on a 5-of-9 performance.
Benson handed out a team-best four assists, while Haiden Williams hauled in six rebounds to lead the Storm with Branam right behind with five.
Benson posted a 4-of-6 effort to lead the Storm in the first half with eight points, playing all 20 minutes, while as a team SE hit 34.8 percent over first two quarters.
A Grace Alverson three opened scoring in the game, but ECU would rally to tie the game at 5-5 before a a 6-0 SE run capped by a Katie Branam layup would give the Storm an 11-5 advantage with 5:07 to go in the first frame.
The lead would remain at five points before a 4-0 Tiger run whittled it to one point, but a pair of Haiden Williams free throws pushed the lead to 15-12 after one quarter.
Two free throws by Carrie Johnson stretched the lead back to five points early in the second, but ECU would close the gap to one possession and eventually take a 21-20 lead with 5:20 to go in the half.
A Benson bucket would answer and swipe the lead back, but the Tigers would close the half on a 14-0 run and the Storm would trail 35-22 at the half.
The Tigers immediately came out and pushed their advantage to 18 points, before back-to-back Branam buckets in the paint would close the gap to 40-26 with 8:39 to go in the third.
SE would keep that distance until a 9-2 run pushed the lead to 51-30 at the 4:09 mark.
The Storm would get it back to 16 points, but ECU would pull out to a 58-39 lead at the final quarter break.
SE was 1-of-10 in the fourth quarter as the Tigers outscored them 15-8 in the final frame to fashion the final of 73-47.