LAKELAND, Fla.—Heading into their Sun Conference matchup with Ave Maria, the men’s basketball team was in search of a victory that would put them back on track in the conference tournament race. Behind Josiah Barsh’s game-high 21 points, the Fire got the win they needed, outscoring the Gyrenes 83-58 Saturday night.
With Southeastern ahead by just seven halfway through the first twenty minutes, Barsh fueled a 26-12 run by scoring 12 of his 17 first-half points in the remaining ten minutes.
The junior transfer made seven of his eight shot attempts before the break, including 3-4 from downtown, to give the Fire a 49-28 lead over the Gyrenes heading into the lockerroom.
SEU continued to get quality looks all night long as they dominated down low.
The Fire outscored the Gyrenes 58-30 in the paint in the contest, converting on easy chances and taking advantage of Ave Maria turnovers.
After shooting 63.6% (21-33) in the first half of play, Southeastern started the second period with eight unanswered points in the paint, six of which came from Isaac Barsh.
The senior from Tacoma, Washington, who finished with ten points, was one of six Fire players to notch a double-digit scoring effort on the night.
Overall, SEU sealed its conquest of Ave Maria with a strong defensive presence and determination on the boards.
Though Southeastern struggled from beyond the arc, going 3-18 in the game and 0-9 in the second half, they held AMU to a mere 17.6% (3-17) from behind the three-point line and only 40.4% from the field.
Four Fire players grabbed at least five rebounds, led by Ryan Atkins who pulled down a team-high eight. Atkins ended the game with 12 points, while Ismael Celestin and Grant Bryant each scored ten points and came up with five rebounds.
In a losing effort, Nemanja Brankov tallied a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds and Gianpaolo Riccio tied Josiah Barsh with a game-high 21 points.
The Fire will look for their third consecutive Sun Conference win as they travel to Coastal Georgia for their next game. Southeastern will take on the Mariners on Thursday at 8 p.m. in Brunswick.