By COURTLIN HAYGARTH | HSU Sports Network
ARKADELPHIA — All five starters for Henderson State scored in double figures as the Reddies won their conference opener over the Southern Arkansas Muleriders Thursday night inside the Duke Wells Center, 75-67.
Alvin Miles led all scorers with 18 points, tying his Henderson career-high. The former Eastern Oklahoma State transfer hit 6-of-11 field goals, including going 3-of-4 from the beyond the arc, while adding four assists, two rebounds and one block in the effort.
Tomislav Miholjcic logged his first double-double of the season, recording 10 points and 10 rebounds while also getting involved on the defensive side of things with two steals and a rejection.
As a team, the Reddies shot 50.0 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from three. After going just 1-of-8 from beyond the perimeter in the first half, HSU hit four of six treys in the second half to overcome a two-point deficit at the break.
Henderson scored the first four points of the game, but Southern Arkansas quickly took control with a 13-0 run over the next five minutes. With SAU snatching the early momentum and eventually building a double-digit lead, HSU began to slowly chip away at the deficit before going on its own run.
With the score at 20-8, a seven-point spurt from the Reddies brought the contest to a two-possession game at the under-eight media timeout, 20-15. Both teams settled in over the remaining seven and a half minutes, trading buckets the rest of the way.
With the final media behind the teams, HSU took one last shot at the lead in the first half. Henderson took SAU’s six-point lead with 2:17 remaining down to two before the halftime buzzer sounded, bringing the score to 30-28. Malik Riddle scored nine of his 14 points in the first 20-minute stint with Miholjcic adding six points and four rebounds.
After knocking down only one triple through the first 20 minutes, it took the Reddies all of two minutes and 47 seconds to double that total as Ryan Boyce and Miles hit back-to-back triples to give Henderson just its second lead of the game since 4-0 in the early going, 37-35.
The lead changed hands three more times before the under-eight media timeout with HSU holding a slight 57-54 advantage. From there, Henderson’s suffocating defense took over as it held SAU scoreless for nearly six minutes of game action, allowing the offense to do its job and pull away for the final time.
A 9-0 run that put the home team up by double-digits with 2:10 remaining all but put the outcome on ice. The Reddies capitalized on seven of eight free-throws down the stretch to keep the Muleriders at bay and claim their first conference win of the young season.
Henderson St. (3-3, 1-0) will hit the road for its next two GAC contests, beginning with the Arkansas-Monticello Boll Weevils Saturday, Dec. 3. Tip-off from the Steelman Fieldhouse is set for 3 p.m.