CAPE GIRARDEAU -- Southeast Missouri State's second win of the season over New Orleans followed a similar script.
The Privateers hung around for a half before the Redhawks pulled away to a convincing 94-71 victory Wednesday night.
"We're always going to come out strong in the second half," senior guard Corey Wilford said. "That's how we won both games."
An announced Show Me Center crowd of 1,820 saw the Redhawks break a two-game losing streak and push above the .500 mark at 7-6.
"It's always good to win," junior point guard Lucas Nutt said.
Southeast coach Dickey Nutt said the Redhawks were itching to get back on the court but they had to wait a while due to final exams.
The Redhawks' most recent outing was a three-point home loss to Central Arkansas on Dec. 8.
"I was really proud of the win tonight," Nutt said. "When you lose, self-confidence is always a big thing. We couldn't get on the floor quick enough to redeem ourselves. I thought we came out and played hard."
There were plenty of individual highlights as the Redhawks shot 54.8 percent from the field, scored their most points against a Division I opponent this year and had a season-low seven turnovers.
Wilford and Lucas Nutt probably deserved to share the game ball.
Wilford, continuing to emerge as one of Southeast's most consistent offensive performers, led all scorers with 18 points. Most of that damage came on 5 of 8 3-point shooting as he tied a career high for 3-pointers made in a game.
"I thought he played well. He has great energy," Dickey Nutt said. "He's a phenomenal shooter. He proved it tonight."
Wilford has scored double figures in nine of the 11 games that he has appeared in this season after missing the first two contests due to a team suspension.
Wilford is averaging 14.3 points, second-best on the squad. He leads the Redhawks in 3-point baskets with 29 while shooting a strong 47.5 percent from beyond the arc.
"He's never lacked confidence," Lucas Nutt said of Wilford. "He's always been able to shoot it. It's just a matter of playing time."
Wilford, like many junior college transfers, had an up-and-down rookie Division I season for Southeast last year. He averaged 6.6 points per game while seeing sporadic action.
This year Wilford has found consistent playing time, which he credits for his surge.
"That's the main reason," he said. "Working hard all summer. ... it's paying off."
Wilford's 3-pointer with 43 seconds left in the first half Wednesday broke a 39-39 tie and sent Southeast to the break up 42-39.
Wilford then drained 3-pointers on three straight possessions early in the second half, part of an 11-4 Southeast run that gave the Redhawks a 53-43 lead.
Nutt assisted on all four of those game-turning jumpers.
"I know always in transition, Luke going to try and find me," Wilford said. "I just go to the 3-point line."
Nutt found plenty of teammates Wednesday as he had a season-high 10 assists against no turnovers while playing a team-high 30 minutes. He added eight points, hitting 2 of 4 from 3-point range.
"I thought Lucas had an outstanding game. He was finding people," Dickey Nutt said of his son.
Sophomore forward Nino Johnson scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Senior guard Nick Niemczyk added 13 points while junior forward Tyler Stone contributed 12 points.
Stone did not start for the first time this season due to a bruised right shoulder suffered during Monday's practice. He had made 36 consecutive starts.
"I was glad to see that he fought through it tonight," Dickey Nutt said.
Senior guard Marland Smith, junior guard A.J. Jones and freshman guard Jared White all added nine points.
With Stone out of the lineup, Southeast started four guards for the first time this year. The Redhawks' perimeter players combined for 66 points and only one turnover. Southeast made 10 of 25 3-pointers.
"When guys are hitting shots it really helps us overall because our bigs always usually play pretty well," Lucas Nutt said. "Whenever the guards get hitting we're pretty good."
Dickey Nutt had special praise for White, Southeast's backup point guard who continues to improve.
"He played good. That's the thing we're looking for. Lucas can't play 40 minutes," the coach said.
New Orleans (3-7) trailed Southeast by six points at halftime before losing 83-67 on Nov. 29 in New Orleans.
The Privateers provided tough opposition during Wednesday's opening period that featured 11 lead changes and five ties.
But Wilford's early second-half surge helped give the Redhawks a decent cushion and they steadily pulled away.
"We got tougher," Lucas Nutt said of the second-half domination. "I thought we were soft in the first half defensively."
Southeast allowed a season-high 45.6 field-goal shooting but New Orleans hit just 40.7 percent in the second half.
"Defensively we weren't as good tonight," Dickey Nutt said. "We were better defensively in the second half."
The Redhawks visit Missouri-Kansas City at 12:05 p.m. Saturday in their final tuneup before opening Ohio Valley Conference play Dec. 29 at home against Tennessee-Martin.