ARKADELPHIA, Ark — Southeastern erased a 16-point second half deficit to take a late lead, but ran out of gas down the stretch in a 77-69 loss at Henderson State to open Great American Conference play on Thursday night.
The loss drops the Savage Storm to 1-4 overall on the year and gets them off to an 0-1 start to the conference season as the team will next hit the court on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. against Ouachita Baptist.
Bailey Welch turned in another outstanding performance in the losing effort with 21 points that included three three pointers while dishing out four assists.
Fellow senior Kayle Reaves turned in her best outing of the young season with 12 points that also included three threes which were a big part of SE’s second half run.
Natalie Ruud joined the pair in double-figures with 14 points, doing so with an 8-of-8 performance from the free throw line.
“We did a little bit of the same thing at [Texas A&M] Commerce the other day,” said head coach Darin Grover of the performance. “It was almost a duplicate of this game. We got tired late and missed some baskets, but I was proud of the fact that we came back.”
“I thought we had some individual performances,” he continued. “Kayle Reaves was a big spark in the second half. Bailey [Welch] had a great night and I thought Taylor Richards did a good job handling the ball.”
SE fell behind by 16 points at 45-29 early in the second half, but slowly whittled away at the Reddie advantage, cutting the score to 46-36 on a Richards layup at the 17:21 mark of the half and just under two minutes later a Reaves three pointer would cut the deficit to single digits.
The rally would continue as Welch scored nine-straight points from in 1:24 of game time and following a pair of free throws had closed the gap to a 52-50 HSU lead.
The Reddie lead would grow back to six points, but back-to-back Reaves threes closed the gap to two points for Shelby Hill to connect in a three of her own to give the Storm a 59-58 lead.
The teams would trade buckets and SE would twice hold leads of two points, and would find itself up 68-67 after a pair of Ruud free throws with 4:01 to play.
HSU would hit a pair of freebies and Hill would tie the game with a free throw at the 3:36 mark, but the Reddies would answer with eight-straight points to set the final of 77-69.
Hill would pace the team on the glass with 10 rebounds, while Richards added eight.
Hill and Welch each posted game-highs of four assists.
HSU held advantages in points off turnovers, points in the paint and second-chance points, while SE had a 35-27 lead in bench points.