In today’s basketball, it’s more common to see forwards put together a perfect shooting night than it is a guard.
On Tuesday night, Antonius Cleveland chalked one up for guards everywhere.
Before the season started, we tabbed Cleveland as one of the top senior guards to keep an eye on this year, and Tuesday night was a perfect example of why. Against the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles, Cleveland and the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks were going for their third straight win on their home court, and were looking to hand the Eagles their first conference loss of the season.
What looked like a commanding lead at the time, the Redhawks took a 46-34 lead into the break after the first half. The Golden Eagles launched a comeback in the second half, and made a game of it.
In the end, Southeast Missouri State would weather the storm. Cleveland finished the game shooting a perfect 9-of-9 from the floor, scoring a game-high 24 points to lead the Redhawks to the 83-78 victory.
While the game got close down the stretch, the Redhawks never trailed on the night. They drew first blood on a pair of free throws from Cleveland in the opening minute, and never looked back.
The Golden Eagles would get to within a point on a few occasions early in the first half, with the last coming at the 16:24 mark. A three point play from Kajon Mack got Tennessee Tech to within 7-6.
As the game progressed, the Redhawks would slowly build on their lead. They took a 14-point lead into halftime, and continued to build on it early in the second half.
With just over 10 minutes to play in the contest, Tahj Eaddy connected on a three pointer to push the Redhawks’ lead to 20 points, their biggest margin of the game, at 67-47. Instead of rolling over and conceding the game, Tennessee Tech continued to fight.
With 1:54 to play in the game, another three ball from Mack brought the Golden Eagles to within a pair, at 75-73. However, their comeback efforts would fall just short, as they wouldn’t be able to climb all the way back and take a lead of their own.
In the final 1:36 of the game, timely free throw shooting from Cleveland, Eaddy, and Daniel Simmons iced the game for the Redhawks. When the final buzzer sounded, Southeast Missouri State came away with the 83-78 victory over Tennessee Tech.
Antonius Cleveland was the star of the night. The senior guard went a perfect 9-of-9 from the floor for a game-high 24 points, while also adding 7 rebounds. He was also 6-of-7 from the free throw line.
Tahj Eaddy added 13 points, and Trey Kellum chipped in with 11 points and 4 rebounds.
For the visitors, Mason Ramsey had a nice game in the loss. He recorded 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals to pace the Golden Eagles.
Kajon Mack added 14 points of his own, finishing the game 5-of-7 from the field.
The win was the third straight at home for the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks (7-12, 2-2), and it also brought an end to their mini two-game skid. They return to the court on Saturday, when they head on the road to take on the UT-Martin Skyhawks.
With the loss, the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (7-12, 3-1) saw their three-game winning streak in conference play come to an end. They will look to get back to their winning ways on Saturday, as they return home to face the Jacksonville State Gamecocks.
– T. Bennett