SHREVEPORT, La. — The Southwestern University Pirates men's basketball team returned from holiday break with an 80-69 road victory over the Centenary College Gentlemen.
Junior forward Brandon Alexander scored 27 points on an efficient 11-for-19 shooting performance and point guard Kyle Howard posted his first double-double of the season with 12 points and a career-high 10 assists to lead the Pirates.
Southwestern struggled to contain Centenary's three-guard starting lineup early, giving up 39 points on 62.5 percent shooting in the first half. Treylan Matthews burned the Pirates from deep, hitting both of his 3-pointers and scoring nine points in the half, while Jericho Gray and Cedric Harris got into to the teeth of the defense, scoring eight points each to give Centenary a 39-36 lead at the break.
Alexander paced the Pirates with 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting in the first half and Trenton Garrett, making his first start of the season, had seven points on four shots and three rebounds at the break.
The Pirates went to smaller lineups after the break, playing Joel Martinez in Garrett's place amongst the starters for most of the second half. Defensively, the quicker lineups allowed for more movement, limiting Centenary to 11-for-26 (42.3 percent) shooting after the break, including just 3-for-11 from deep. Southwestern also managed to force eight second-half turnovers, including five steals.
Offensively, the additional spacing allowed Howard to move freely, contributing eight points and six assists after the half. Alexander continued his scoring spree, scoring 15 of his 27 points on 6-for-10 shooting, hitting 2-for-5 from 3-point range.
For the game, the Pirates outshot Centenary 55 percent to 52 percent, hitting four more 3-pointers to overcome a 14-4 deficit in free-throw attempts. Southwestern moved the ball freely, assisting on 24 of its 33 made field goals with just 10 turnovers. The Pirates also finished with eight steals and a 19-6 advantage in points off turnovers.
Martinez finished with 11 points off the bench and Kyle Poerschke contributed eight points as Southwestern's second unit outscored Centenary's 19-11.
Matthews led Centenary with 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting while Kaharri Carter had 12 points and Harris finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
With the win, the Pirates improve to 6-6 and remain undefeated through three games in conference play. Centenary drops to 3-8 and 1-2. The Pirates will return home to host Schreiner on Friday, Jan. 4 at 7:30 p.m.