MONTICELLO — Arkansas-Monticello needed to play overtime against Southeastern Oklahoma State to shake off its two-game losing streak.
Senior guard Kori Forge led a pivotal run in overtime and finished with 31 points, nine rebounds and five assist to help UAM beat the Savage Storm 74-67 on Thursday night.
“We really needed this win,” Forge said after the game. “I played like crap the last two games. Coach (Allen Sharpe) really challenged me during practice all week to step up and make some big plays.”
The senior point guard was coming off 4-of-11 shooting and three turnovers in a one-point loss at home against Southwestern Oklahoma State on Saturday. Forge helped the Boll Weevils outscore the Savage Storm 12-5 in overtime, totaling eight points.
“He had a fantastic game,” Southeastern head coach Kelly Green said of Forge, whose 20.6 points per game leads the Great American Conference. “All a shooter needs is an inch to get a shot off and our guys are jumping in the air on shot fakes.”
Forge’s free throws in overtime put UAM ahead by seven with 17 seconds remaining to essentially seal the victory that evened both team’s conference records at 7-7. UAM is 12-8 overall and Southeastern is 11-9.
After a slow start by both teams to start to second half, the Savage Storm took control when guard James Harris ripped Ramon Mejia of UAM and scored, giving them a 43-41 lead with 12:03 remaining.
“For the most part I thought we were pretty sound defensively,” said Green, whose team shot 45 percent from the floor. “The biggest deal was we turned the ball over.”
After Southeastern took a 56-50 lead midway through the second half, UAM answered with a three-pointer by Ramon Mejia, who finished with 13 points.
Forge’s three with 2:27 remaining tied the game 58-58.
Of all the things fans complain about, missing free throws to win a game is probably No. 1 on the list. UAM’s A.J. Calhoun missed two free throws with 1.1 seconds left and the game tied 62-62, sending the game into overtime at Steelman Fieldhouse.
“I really felt bad for A.J. missing those two free throws,” UAM head coach Allen Sharpe said. “A.J. is about a 40 percent free throw shooter. That would have been huge for his confidence. Thankfully we held on and won the game.”
UAM wasted no time getting the fans riled up during the extra period. The Weevils responded to the energetic play with loud support and delivered a performance to remember.
“Hopefully what’s ahead is more winning,” Forge said. “We need more wins to get a good seed going into the (conference) tournament.”
Sharpe added that the win helps his team to refocus for what’s ahead, which is another home contest against East Central this Saturday.
“We just got to keep doing what we’re doing,” said Sharpe. “When they’re in the 60s we have a good chance of winning. Our defense has got to do it if we’re going to win anything.”
SE Oklahoma State 79, UAM 54
MONTICELLO — Bailey Welch scored 19 points, Ronay English added 15 points and Southeastern Oklahoma State (8-12, 6-8) rallied past Arkansas-Monticello (4-15, 2-12) for a 79-54 win Thursday night.
Southeastern took control of the game early and never looked back. Welch opened the scoring with a three-pointer, part of an early 28-8 run by the Savage Storm. The Cotton Blossoms would trail 39-30 at halftime despite shooting 30.3 percent (10 of 33) from the floor.
The teams traded blows early in the second half until the Savage Storm was able to create some separation when Shelby Hill went 4 of 4 behind the three-point line, pushing the lead to 78-51 with 1:00 remaining.
Jordan Goforth scored 15 points and Candace Virgadamo added nine points for UAM.