Allison Smalling/ERAU Athletics
The second-ranked Embry-Riddle men’s basketball team maintained sole possession of first place in The Sun Conference with a big road victory at No. 22 Southeastern on Saturday night. The Eagles (19-1, 7-1) finished the game on a 6-2 run to earn a 74-72 victory over the Fire (12-6, 6-3). ERAU now holds a two-game lead in the conference standings over SEU and Johnson & Wales, who both share second place at 6-3.
DeForest Carter and Cesar Pastrana each scored a team-high 19 points, while Pastrana also pulled down a team-leading nine rebounds. Reed Ridder chipped in 14 points and three assists and Joseph Gonzalez added 13 points and six boards.
Andre’ Winston led the Fire with a game-high 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting and Larry Taylor, Caleb Konieczny and Timothy Mitchell each tallied 11 points. Dana Thomas grabbed a game-high 10 points for the Fire while scoring four points.
ERAU shot over 50-percent from the field for the 12th time this season, connecting on 29-of-56 field goals (51.8%), while SEU was 44.8% from the floor. Embry-Riddle was the better team on the inside as well, outscoring Southeastern in the paint, 48-36, while outrebounding the Fire, 36-28.
Embry-Riddle came out of the gates strong, jumping out to a 9-2 lead in the first two-and-a-half minutes. Carter pushed the Eagle lead to double-digits with a layup to make it a 14-4 game less than five minutes into the contest.
The Blue and Gold looked to be in control as Ridder drilled a three to increase the lead to 19-8 with 13:39 to play in the first half, and the Eagles would continue to hold a comfortable lead throughout the first period.
Pastrada scored a layup after grabbing an offensive rebound with 4:05 to play in the half, building the advantage to 13 points (35-22). Embry-Riddle continued to lead by double-digits, holding a 39-29 at the end of the half.
After Southeastern opened the second-half scoring with a three-point play from Mitchell to make it a seven-point game, Embry-Riddle pulled away, eventually leading by 17 points (51-34) with 16:16 left in the game.
The Blue and Gold still held a comfortable lead with just under 12 minutes to play, leading 57-44. In just over three-and-a-half minutes, the Fire went on
a 10-0 run to make it a game again, trimming the Eagle lead to just three points (57-54).
ERAU got its offense going again and looked to be rebuilding its lead, increasing the margin to six points (65-59) with 5:24 to play. Once again, the Fire defense stepped up, holding Embry-Riddle to just three points over the next three minutes of play. During that time, SEU went on an 11-3 run to take its
first and only lead of the entire game, 70-68 with 2:32 on the clock.
Undeterred, the Blue and Gold came right back down the court and got a three-pointer from Ridder to retake the lead (71-70) for good with 2:17 left in the game. The Eagle defense limited Southeastern to two points in the final two minutes, allowing ERAU to hold on for the 74-72 win.
The Eagles return home on Wednesday, Jan. 28 to host Northwood in a Sun Conference doubleheader. The women will take the court at 5:30 p.m., with the men’s game set to tip-off at approximately 7:30 p.m.