Coming into their Wednesday night game against Selma, the Statesmen had lost five of their first seven games. The encouraging part about DSU’s season was the team had been competitive in all seven. Four of the team’s five losses were by eight points or less.
When the game against the Selma University Bulldogs began Wednesday, the hard work DSU has been putting in finally paid off as the Statesmen won decisively 72-53 here at the Walter Sillers Coliseum to end a three-game losing streak.
On offense, the Statesmen, now 3-5, did a good job of sharing the basketball and looking for the right shot as they finished with a field goal percentage of 47.2 percent (25-of-53) and dished out 18 assists while Selma, now 6-7, had only seven assists. DSU’s defense held Selma to a field goal percentage of 31 percent (13-of-42).
DSU went through a slow stretch at one point in the second half as Selma went on a 17-4 run but DSU’s lead in the half never got below 13 points.
“Tonight was good,” Delta State head coach Jim Boone said. “I thought we played, for the most part, really well defensively. In the second half, we got caught up a little bit in their helter skelter. They were trying to make the game faster and do some things and we got caught up in that a little bit. Once we settled down, we ended up getting five consecutive stops and scored on three of the five.”
Terry Leake, Jr. and Cornell Knight led the Statesmen on the court. Leake scored 27 points and pulled down 15 rebounds with three assists, two steals and a block, while Knight scored 15 points with eight rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal. Leake also went 9-of-17 from the floor and 7-of-7 from the free throw line, while Knight went 4-of-9 in the field and 7-of-9 from the free throw line. DSU shot a solid 72 percent at the charity stripe and outrebounded Selma 32-21.
“I told our team every time, we’ve taken steps forward,” Boone said. “We worked really hard Monday and Tuesday. I think the leadership that we’re getting out of Terry Leake and Cornell Knight has been exceptional. You can’t push a team as hard as we’ve pushed these guys if internally you’re not receiving leadership that allows you to do so. I give all that praise and how hard we’ve worked and how focused we’ve stayed to our leaders Cornell and Terry.”
Ryan Smith scored 12 points and pulled down six rebounds to aid the Statesmen, followed by Jack Madgen with nine points, five assists and four rebounds.
DSU will have a little break as the team won’t be back in action until Dec. 29 when the team will host Belhaven at the Walter Sillers Coliseum in a 4 p.m. contest.