The young Statesmen scrapped and played hard to the final buzzer, but when it was all over the veteran laden Henderson State squad were the victors with an 81-73 win.
The Reddies improved to 2-0 on the year, while the Statesmen fell to 0-1.
The story of the game was unforced turnovers and made free throws for the Reddies down the stretch.
Delta State turned the ball over 19 times with Henderson State scoring 16 points off those turnovers. The Reddies also finished the night shooting 78-percent from the charity stripe including a 13-of-14 run at the free throw line after the 2:27 mark in the second half.
"I thought we had every opportunity to win tonight,” DSU head coach Jim Boone said. “I thought we got a little bit fatigued in the first half and went from being up five to down five at the half. In the second half, I thought we came out and played really well defensively the way we did to start the game and was able to go up five.”
Boone felt the turnovers really hurt the team, especially after the Statesmen had established a rhythm on the offensive end of the floor.
"We had some costly turnovers and that's something we have to do a better job of because that's certainly not apart of our formula for success,” Boone said. “I felt like most of the turnovers were self-inflicted and not coming out of traps and pressure. With that said I think you have to give a lot of credit to Henderson because they kept the heat on all game.”
With 10:13 remaining in the second half, the Statesmen held their biggest lead of the second half at 58-50. That lead quickly started to dissipate as Henderson crept back into the game and pulled to within four points at 62-58 with 6:34 left in the game.
Two free throws and a layup from Henderson's Joe McCoy tied the game at 62-62 with 5:14 left in regulation.
A layup from DSU's Jack Madgen put DSU up 64-62, but Henderson's Melvin Haynes tied the game at 64-64 with a layup of his own with 4:02 left on the clock.
Following a DSU turnover, Henderson's Denzel Lyles stroked a 3-point shot with 3:17 remaining for a 67-64 lead and the Reddies never looked back as they outscored Delta State 14-9 to end the game.
Terry Leake Jr. led the Statesmen with 29 points and 13 rebounds on 12-of-17 shooting from the field and 5-of-7 shooting from the free throw line. Cornell Knight scored 14 points with six rebounds and four assists; Mike Weems finished with 10 points and Magden finished with nine points.
Henderson had five players in double figures led by Haynes with 23 points, Andrew Ensley with 15, Lyles with 14, McCoy with 13 and Jonathan Fitzgerald with 10 points.
Hendserson State shot 42.1 percent from the field on 25-of-57 attempts, including 8-of-23 from 3-point range. The Reddies were also 25-of-32 at the free throw line and outscored DSU 25-11 off the bench.
The Statesmen shot 54 percent for the night on 27-of-50 shooting, but struggled from 3-point range, as they were just 3-of-11 from beyond the arc. Delta State out rebounded Henderson 35-29, but lost the turnover battle 19-11.
The Statesmen will return to action on Saturday at 4 p.m. when they host the Magicians of LeMoyne Owen College.