Faces Keiser Tuesday in Championship Game | Donnie Smith
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla.—The third time was the charm for the Fire men’s basketball team.
Following two tight games against The Sun Conference regular season champions, Southeastern came away with a win in the postseason matchup, defeating St. Thomas 85-76 at the Fernandez Family Center.
Southeastern (20-9) will now face second-seeded Keiser on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the conference championship game.
A game that featured five ties and 15 lead changes saw the Fire use a monster offensive outbreak in the second half to come away with the win. In the second 20 minutes, Southeastern outscored St. Thomas 50-39.
Junior Josiah Barsh hit three of his four 3-point attempts in the second half, with the first cutting a six-point deficit in half with 17:18 left in the second. The next gave SEU a 49-47 lead with 15:26 to play. At the 7:54 mark, Barsh’s third 3-pointer put SEU up 63-62, and the Bobcats would never lead again.
Barsh finished with 19 points off the bench, going 7-of-10 from the field.
CJ Reese got the Fire going in the first half, leading all scorers with 15 points in the first 20 minutes of play. The senior converted on 7-of-9 from the field in the first half. Reese knocked down a 3-pointer with 12:03 left in the first to put SEU up 16-13.
Reese finished the night with a game-high 22 points, and added five assists and four rebounds.
A Philip Saunders 3-pointer with 30 seconds left gave the hosts a 37-35 lead at halftime.
St. Thomas (23-7) started the second half on an 8-2 run, building a 45-37 lead. Following a timeout, Grant Bryant went to work, scoring four points that sandwiched Barsh’s first 3-pointer. Bryant finished with 18 points and five rebounds.
Ryan Atkins (12) and Isaac Barsh (10) were also in double figures in scoring.
For the first time this season, the Fire outrebounded St. Thomas, grabbing a 34-31 advantage on the boards. St. Thomas center Raheem Bowman was held to eight points and five rebounds before fouling out after 19 minutes.
Darwin Trotman led the way for the Bobcats with 14 points and six assists.
This marks just the second championship game appearance in program history for the Fire, with the previous coming in 2015.