Updated Mon, Dec 23, 2013 10:35 am
The Southeastern Fire ignited a spark from the tipoff and never looked back in the fourth and final game of the Jackson Hewitt Holiday Classic, defeating the Rio Grande RedStorm 92-81. The game on Sunday evening at the CFE Arena in Orlando, Fla., marks Rio Grande’s third consecutive loss. Rio Grande’s loss to Central Florida on Saturday did not count towards its record but after Sunday’s loss the RedStorm fall to 7-5 on the season.
Timothy Mitchell started the game off hot for the Fire with a quick layup on the first possession. Josh Reagan hit a jump shot for Rio Grande to tie the game at seven after two minutes of play but the RedStorm failed to get any closer to gaining the lead.
The Fire continued to heat up even more and finished the first half with a 43-31 lead.
Rio Grande cut its deficit to 11 with 18:37 remaining in the game after two straight buckets from Jermaine Warmack. The Fire led the RedStorm by 20 points, giving them their largest lead of the night at 58-38 with 14:16 remaining in the game. Rio Grande continued to chip away at the deficit for the remainder of the half.
The RedStorm trailed the Fire by 10 points at 77-67 with 4:29 remaining in the game after a layup by Phillip Hertz. Evan Legg knocked down a crucial three-pointer one minute later to cut the deficit down to six points but Rio Grande failed to cut the deficit any more. Southeastern responded with a 9-0 run and continued to dominate the remainder of the game.
Southeastern (10-2) was in the driver’s seat for most of the game and were highlighted by junior guard Dana Thomas who netted 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Junior center Timothy Mitchell added 18 points, seven blocks and eight boards in the winning effort. Mitchell entered this game as the Sun Conference leader in rebounds with 12.91 and 2.46 blocks per game. Junior guard Jake Hodges added 15 points while Jordan Talley and Amir Royal netted 13 points each.
Hertz entered the game as the leading scorer for the RedStorm and finished the night with 18 points off the bench. Legg and D.D. Joiner also came off of the bench to score in double digits. Legg netted 16 points and four rebounds while Joiner added 12 points and eight rebounds.
The RedStorm will now take a break for the holidays, but return to play on Dec. 30 as they host the University of Cincinnati-Clermont in the Newt Oliver Arena. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.