HARRISBURG, Ill. – The Mineral Area Men’s basketball team survived a tight road rematch with Southeastern Illinois on Saturday after easily putting away the Falcons earlier this season.
The 7th-ranked Cardinals were forced into overtime by a 3-point shot from SE Illinois freshman Michael Littlejohn, but Mineral Area finished off the Falcons 91-83 to complete an unbeaten first semester.
Sophomores Lamar Morgan and Shawn Roundtree combined for 53 points while establishing individual career highs for Mineral Area (16-0).
Morgan scored a game-high 29 points after going 5-of-7 from behind the arc. Roundtree, a transfer from Missouri State, was a perfect 6-of-6 from 3-point range and 8-of-8 at the line to finish with 26.
Littlejohn topped the Falcons (2-10) by scoring 21 points. Sophomores Richard Gaines and Darryl Curry chipped in 15 each.
The Cardinals calmly took control in overtime to outscore the Falcons 16-4 behind a solid closing effort from Roundtree.
Starters Littlejohn and Pope both fouled out during the extra session for SE Illinois, crippling its chances of landing the upset.
Mineral Area struggled at many aspects, but executed well from the perimeter. The Cardinals made 12 3-pointers and only nine field goals from nearer range.
Free throws were also a strong suit as Mineral Area converted 35-of-44 and needed them all.
Sophomore forward Devin Thomas added 12 points for the Cardinals, but the SE Illinois zone caused many problems early as MAC looked to pass inside.
Two technical fouls against the Falcons helped momentum shift toward the visitors in the first half. The second call against Redd was followed by a scoring frenzy from Morgan.
He made two free throws and some timely threes to highlight a 12-2 run. The Cardinals turned a five-point deficit into an eventual 41-33 halftime lead.
Mineral Area started the second half with more careless play, and turnovers kept negating their accurate shooting.
SE Illinois capitalized for an 11-0 spurt, and breifly regained the lead on a layup by sophomore Cletrell Pope.
Zac Cuthbertson had nine points for Mineral Area, which returns to action on Jan. 4 against Pure Prep Academy before beginning the Region 16 schedule at Three Rivers.