LAKELAND, Fla.—A second half surge wasn’t enough as the Southeastern men’s basketball team ended the regular season with a 70-67 loss to St. Thomas.
Southeastern trailed by 11 with 4:28 to go in the first half, but a 7-1 run in the first 4:30 of the second half got the Fire back into the game, trailing 43-39. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Josiah Barsh, then an off-balance jumper as the shot clock expired from Jeremy Oppenheimer made it a one-point game with 14:15 left.
Each time the Fire got the stops they needed, they were unable to get the shot to fall at the other end.
With 4:47 left, Ryan Atkins connected on a 3-pointer to make it a two-point game (62-60), but the Fire turned the ball over on their next possession.
Atkins finished with 10 points, had two rebounds, and three assists.
Barsh knocked down another 3-pointer with 3:51 to go to cut the STU lead to 65-63, but were unable to convert on the next possession following two missed free throws by the Bobcats.
Raheem Bowman controlled the paint for St. Thomas, scoring 24 points, and hauling in 17 rebounds. As a team, the Bobcats outrebounded the Fire 46-23.
Southeastern had a couple opportunities with less than 10 seconds left in a one-possession game. Atkins got to the free throw line with two seconds left, making the first and intentionally missing the second, but failed to hit the rim, giving the ball back to the Bobcats to ice the game.
“I’m proud of our guys continuing to fight, even when things weren’t going our way,” said coach R-Jay Barsh. “It wasn’t our best night offensively, but we had a shot at the end and just didn’t knock it down.”
The Fire led for the first nearly seven minutes of the game, leading by five on three different occasions. That’s when the Bobcats started to get the ball into the lane to Bowman and others, scoring 16 of its 22 points in the final 10 minutes of the first half in the lane to take a 42-32 lead at the break.
Grant Bryant led the way for the Fire, scoring 16 points, grabbing four rebounds, and dishing out an assist in his final game at The Furnace.
Jeremy Oppenheimer had 14 points off the bench.
“We have to continue to fight, and have a mentality to stay together and find a way to win on Thursday,” said Barsh.
Southeastern will travel to Warner on Thursday for The Sun Conference Tournament Quarterfinal.