The Southeastern Community College men's basketball team felt fortunate.

After getting thoroughly outplayed for most of the first 20 minutes of Tuesday's game against Des Moines Area Community College, the Blackhawks were re-energized by a zone defense they rarely use. 

Given a second chance and new life, SCC made the most of it, pulling away for an 87-71 victory at Loren Walker Arena.

Their reward? A home game on Thursday against NJCAA Division II's seventh-ranked Triton College. And then the Blackhawks get a much-needed six days off to rest and heal.

On this night, SCC felt fortunate to come away with a win.

"We came out real slow. We've got to pick up the intensity, so we can come out with a strong first half and finish with a strong second half," said SCC freshman guard DeAndre Barton, who came off the bench to score nine points, seven coming in a crucial second-half run. "We were moving slow and not hitting shots like we're supposed to. We picked it up in the second half, though."

"We came out slow. We had to pick it up. A lot of offensive rebounds we gave up," said SCC sophomore guard Ramiir Dixon-Conover, who scored 15 points and had three steals. "Instead of going for the man, we went for the ball, so we gave up a lot of offensive rebounds."

SCC (10-2) looked sluggish and a step slow to start the game, perhaps tired legs from a six-hour bus ride home after Saturday's game at Iowa Lakes.

"That wasn't the way we play," SCC coach Lorenzo Watkins said. "We were hoping those seven games in 12 days hadn't caught up to us. Coming off the long trip. We didn't get back until three or four Sunday morning. We watched a little film and did some shooting Monday and then back at it Tuesday."

The Blackhawks overplayed the passing lanes, leaving the Bears with wide-open shots. DMACC capitalized, sinking 13 of 26 shots in the first half while building a 35-31 lead.

SCC's only lead in the first 20 minutes came after a 3-pointer by Patrick Jackson four minutes in. Jackson finished with a game-high 21 points.

The Blackhawks trailed by as many as seven points, but the deficit could have been much larger.

"I told them, 'Guys, if this was January or February, we would be down 20 easy," Watkins said. "The way we were offensively on our heels and struggling to attack. We were lucky we weren't down 20 at half. We can't be a light-switch team. We can't just show up and turn on the lights in the gym and be ready to play."

Watkins switched to a zone defense, something the Blackhawks hadn't even practiced in two weeks. It worked wonders in the second.

"When we were in the zone (defense), we were more intense, more ready to get a stop," Barton said.

"That was a good job by Coach," Dixon-Conover said of switching to a zone defense. "They didn't have an answer for it. That kind of caught them off-guard."

DMACC (10-3), ranked 18th in Division II, scored on a layin by Nysir Marshburn to open the second half.

SCC responded with a steal by Barton, which led to a layup by Jackson. That play ignited the Blackhawks, who regained the lead on a layup by Jackson.

A putback by Barton with 14:28 left gave SCC the lead for good. He scored seven of his nine points in the second half, all in a run which saw the Blackhawks open a 62-52 lead on a 3-pointer by Dixon-Conover with 8:56 left.

"I was attacking more," Barton said. "I was just being more aggressive."

"I knew I had to make big plays," Dixon-Conover said. "I just took what the defense gave me."

"(Barton) played well. Just like the other night at Iowa Lakes. He comes off the bench and gives us that boost," Watkins said. "We needed that from him."

Niksa Nikolic, who had been quiet in the first half, became a force inside in the second half. He tossed in 14 points and pulled down nine rebounds, giving his team crucial second-chance points on five occasions.

Victor Nwagbaraocha also had another big game, scoring 16 points and grabbing five rebounds to go along with two assists and two steals.

"We played with more intensity in the second half," Dixon-Conover said. "The guys coming in played with more intensity. That evened everything out."

SCC doesn't get much time to rest. The Blackhawks face another tough home test on Thursday before hitting the road for three games next week.

"That was a hard-fought game. I didn't realize until earlier today that the last four or five years, the road team has won this game," Watkins said. "We're going to have to rest our legs. We've got Thursday and then a couple days off. But it doesn't stop there. We go to Kirkwood and then we go to Indian Hills and play two games at a neutral site. It doesn't stop."

DMACC (71)

Nysir Marshburn 3-7 2-5 8, Wali Parks 6-10 4-5 18, Andrew Madison 2-3 3-4 7, Lee Higgins 1-6 3-6 6, Ray Miller 2-3 2-3 6, Antowine Locke 2-4 1-2 5, Eli Ward 1-2 2-4 4, DeShawn Davidson 1-5 4-4 6, Devonte Prince 1-2 0-0 2, Brandon Lawani 1-1 0-1 2, Hamza Gocobia 2-5 2-2 7. Totals: 22-48 23-36 71.

SCC (87)

Victor Nwagbaraocha 5-11 1-6 16, Brandon Miller 1-2 2-2 4, Ramiir Dixon-Conover 5-6 3-4 15, Patrick Jackson 7-11 5-9 21, Neshua Wise 2-7 0-0 4, Martin Lakovic 0-0 0-0 0, DeAndre Barton 3-5 3-4 9, Rodney Johnson 2-3 0-0 4, Alier Riak 0-0 0-0 0, Niksa Nikolic 5-7 4-4 14. Totals: 30-52 23-30 87.

Halftime: DMACC 35, SCC 31. Fouls: DMACC 27, SCC 32. Fouled out: R.Miller, Nwagbaraocha, Dixon-Conover. Technicals: Nwagbaraocha, Parks, Higgins. 3-point goals: DMACC 4-17 (Parks 2-4, Gocobia 1-3, Higgins 1-4, Miller 0-1, Prince 0-1, Davidson 0-1, Marshburn 0-3), SCC 4-13 (Dixon-Conover 2-3, Jackson 2-5, Nwagbaraocha 0-1, Wise 0-4). Rebounds: DMACC 29 (Madison 6), SCC 30 (Nikolic 9). Assists: DMACC 9 (Parks 3), SCC 12 (Barton 4). Steals: DMACC 13 (Higgins 2, Miller 2), SCC 17 (Dixon-Conover 3). Blocks: DMACC 0, SCC 2 (Miller 1, Nikolic 1). Turnovers: DMACC 22 (Higgins 5), SCC 18 (Dixon-Conover 8).

Records: DMACC 10-3, SCC 10-2.