Emporia, Kan. -- Sophomore guard RJ Leverette scored a career-high 22 points, but an early second-half run from Emporia State helped the Hornets over the Lions 76-62 in Emporia tonight.
Southern (9-7, 4-4 MIAA) was led by Leverette's 22 points as he went 8-9 from the field and 6-7 from long-range, a career high in three's for the sophomore. Marquis Addison scored 16 points and added three assists and five rebounds.
Emporia (8-7, 3-4 MIAA) had three players score in double-figures, led by 19 points from Kaleb Wright, while Paul Bunch scored 18 and Chris Sights added 12.
The Hornets started the game on an 8-2 run, after a layup from Paul Bunch with 17:18 left in the first. The Lions cut the lead to four (12-8) after a three pointer from Leverette with 14:59 left. A free-throw from Matt Everson with 9:42 left made the score 21-18, Emporia, and after the Hornets pushed their lead to 36-28, Southern finished the half on a 6-0 run to go into the locker room down 36-34 at the half.
Emporia started the second half strong and quickly opened up a 12 point lead (46-34) after a three from Terrance Moore. The lead was 14 after a pair of free-throws from Sights made the score 58-44 with 9:18 left. A three from Wright made the ESU lead 20 (75-55) with just under two minutes left to go, and a 7-1 run by the Lions to close the game provided the final score.
Southern shot 44 percent from the field and 53 percent from long-range, but the Lions couldn't overcome that hot start to the second half by the Hornets. ESU out rebounded Southern 37-27 and held a 17-6 advantage in second-chance points.
The Lions will be back in action on Saturday, when Southern plays host to Northeastern State. Tipoff is slated for 3:30 pm inside the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.