Southeastern out-shot East Central and put three players in double-figures, but could not overcome 16 turnovers and a large Tiger advantage at the free throw line in a 76-60 loss in Ada, Okla., on Thursday night.
The loss drops the Savage Storm to 8-17 overall on the year and 5-14 in Great American Conference play.
SE was dealt another blow just a few minutes after the conclusion of its game in Ada when Ouachita Baptist scored a buzzer-beating three with 0.6 second left to top Henderson State 59-58 and take a one-game lead over the Storm in the race for the final playoff position with one game to play.
Hope is not lost for Southeastern as a win over Harding on Saturday and a loss at Arkansas-Monticello by OBU would put the two teams back in a tie for eighth place which would earn the Storm a trip to the postseason on tiebreakers thanks to its win over Arkansas Tech who is tied for the GAC lead.
In Thursday's game, the Storm shot 43.1 percent from the floor and hit five threes, while the Tigers hit 39.7 percent and matched the Storm's total from long range.
The first major difference came thanks to the free throw line where SE hit 11-of-17, which struggled to stack up with the 25-of-31 that ECU hit.
The second factor came into play as the Storm committed 16 turnovers, while the Tigers turned the ball over just six times which led to an 18-3 scoring edge for the home team.
East Central also took advantage of its offensive rebounds, holding a 20-6 edge in the category.
Urald King finished the game with 15 points to lead the Storm, while John Balwigaire and Taylor Smaller each added 12.
King's eight rebounds led the team on the glass, while Smaller's four assists was a team-high as well.
The Storm scored first and opened the game on a 9-3 run that was capped by a King dunk with 17:11 to go in the first half.
ECU answered with an 11-0 run to take a 14-9 lead by the 14:37 mark.
The Tigers would maintain the lead for the remainder of the half, pushing it out to as many as 11 points before the Storm whittled it back to 42-33 at the break.
East Central pushed their advantage back out to 12 points in the early going of the second half, but a quick 7-2 spurt would close the score to 58-52 after a Tyler Lonzie layup with 8:16 to play.
That was as close as the game would get though as ECU would outscore the Storm 18-8 over the final eight minutes to pull away with a 76-60 win.