It’s not easy for any team to come back from a 23-point deficit at halftime on an opponent’s court.
For UNO men’s basketball, it was impossible.
Thanks to a devastatingly slow start to Wednesday night, the top team in the Southland Conference fell 71-64 to Southeastern Louisiana.
It all started with SLU’s 18-0 run in the opening minutes of the game that put the Privateers into a early hole.
For almost nine minutes of game time, UNO couldn’t hit a shot from anywhere on the court.
UNO coach Mark Slessinger said it wasn’t anything in particular that the Lions did or that his team came in sleeping on a team in the middle of the conference pack, but instead it was the 6 of 25 shooting from the field in the first half.
“We just missed too many shots in the paint,” Slessinger said. “We missed 10 shots in the paint in the first 10 minutes and gave them an opportunity for them to build a lead and get into a comfort zone. We just didn’t play good enough to close the thing out and win.”
And while UNO was ice cold from the floor, SLU (17-10, 10-4 SLC) was anything but.
The Lions shot 16 of 30 in the first half, including 5 of 9 from 3-point range.
The win marks the first time SLU has won 17 games since the 2009-10 season.
“We got off to a great start. Thank goodness we did and built up such a good lead," said Southeastern coach Jay Ladner. "We knew that they were going to come back as has happened to us a couple of times. We've got to learn from it."
To their credit, the Privateers didn’t go down without a fight.
After trailing by as much as 25 points early in the second half, UNO (13-12, 10-3 SLC) cut the deficit to six points with 34 second left to play and a chance to steal the game.
Ladner called it a “tale of two halves” for SLU who allowed the Privateers to creep back into the game with 53.3 percent shooting in the second half.
But SLU was able to hold the reigning conference tournament champions at bay just long enough for the win, capped off with a decisive, breakaway dunk by Jordan Capps with 10 seconds to play that effectively cut off any hopes for a miracle.
“A typical Southeastern-UNO basketball game," Ladner said. "I wish we could have finished it a little bit more and little bit better way, maybe a bit more clean way. But the bottom line is that it was a good team and a good win for out basketball team."
Capps led all scorers with 18 points, eight rebounds and three steals. UNO was paced by Troy Green’s 13 points.