SAU shot 46% from the floor with a 40% clip from three-point range, while outrebounding the host 40-33. The Muleriders dropped 18 more points than DBU’s scoring defense averaged in its previous three games. The Patriots entered with the nation’s leading turnover margin at +11.3, but was tabbed at -1 in the statistic on Saturday night.
Senior Aaron Lucas recorded a season and game-high 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting with a trio of three-point makes to go along with six assists, five rebounds and three steals. Senior Devante Brooks, who gritted through a fractured shooting hand when SAU met DBU in the opening round of last March’s South Central Region Tournament, nearly delivered a triple-double with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting with 11 rebounds and seven blocks in addition to picking up three assists and three steals.
Junior guard Blake Rogers was a key trigger for the Muleriders (2-2) from beyond-the-arc on Saturday night as he sank five trifectas as part of a 16-point night. Junior combo Jalen Brooks scored eight points and bagged 13 rebounds, including five on the offensive end of the floor.
It was a defensive battle in the first twenty minutes as the two teams played to a four-point SAU lead at the intermission. The first half saw four tied scores and four lead changes and started off with a Rogers make from distance that set the tone early. Southern Arkansas sank 11 shots in the first half with eight of those coming from beyond-the-arc. Lucas nailed three, Rogers added two, junior guard Tyler Garrett sank a pair and junior guard Ty Archibald knocked down a trifecta as well as the Muleriders shot 44.4% from deep in the first half.
Leading 25-24 with just over 2:30 remaining before the break, Lucas connected on a transition jumper to push SAU out front 27-24 and 19 seconds later, he knocked down the eighth Mulerider three-point shot of the half as the lead grew to six before nestling at four points through one half of play.
The first two minutes of the second half belonged to Devante Brooks. The Muleriders opened the final twenty minutes on an 8-0 run, their largest of the night, to take a 38-26 lead. Brooks accounted for all eight points as he made an early bucket to open second-half scoring, knocked down two free throws within the first minute and followed with consecutive inside baskets to cap the impressive 120-second effort following the breather.
With 15:43 to play, DBU cut the deficit to 40-32, but that is as close as the Patriots would manage to get to the Southern Arkansas lead down the stretch. SAU held Dallas Baptist to under 40 points through the 10:30 mark of the second half and twice led by 17 points in the game’s final seven minutes.
All five starters recorded 30+ minutes in the victory led by Lucas’ 39 and followed by Rogers’ 36 and D. Brooks’ 35. The win is the first for the Muleriders over a ranked opponent since a 69-65 victory over #23 Southeastern Oklahoma State on February 20, 2020 in Magnolia. It’s the first road victory over a ranked foe since January 2, 2011 when SAU knocked off #4 Alabama-Huntsville 49-46.
The Muleriders face a quick turnaround in preparation for Champion Christian College on Monday, November 22 in Magnolia. Tip-off from inside the W.T. Watson Center is set for 7 p.m. Live coverage links are available at www.MuleriderAthletics.com.
Cross-posted from SAU Muleriders Communications