Four players scored in double figures as Texas Southern Tigers fought back in the second half to defeat Southern 77-68 in the SWAC opener for both teams.
The first half was a track meet between both teams with a combined 17 lead changes. With the game tied at 19-all, Jordan Andrews scored five consecutive points for a 24-19 lead with 8:55 left. SU answered with a three-pointer but Chris Baldwin and John Jones upped TSU’s lead back to six at 28-22 with a pair of baskets. SU went on an 8-1 run to regain a 30-29 advantage but TSU would respond as they outscored the Jaguars 11-5 over the next two minutes to lead 40-34 with 1:16 remaining. SU’s Ahsante Shivers nailed a trey with 15 seconds left to close out the half at 40-37 TSU.
Texas Southern opened the second half in early foul trouble as the Southern was in the bonus within the first eight minutes of the half. During that span, Southern chipped away and regained a 50-48 lead as they outscored the Tigers 13-5 as TSU went ice cold from the field via 3-of-15 shooting and three turnovers.
Down 55-51 at the slightly under the 11-minute mark, Chris Baldwin hit 1-of-2 free throws to draw within 55-52 and the Tigers used their defensive presence in the paint with a big block on the following possession by Eden Ewing. John Jones missed a jumper on the ensuing possession but Baldwin picked up a big offensive rebound and found Ewing in the paint for three-point play the old-fashioned way and a 55-55 margin with 9:58 remaining.
Three Tiger turnovers over the next minute moved the momentum meter back to SU as the Jaguars went on a 6-0 run to lead 61-55. Sensing the game slipping away, the Tigers responded with their backs against the wall as Baldwin hit a basket to draw within 61-57 followed by a SU charging foul. Tyrik Armstrong was fouled on the next play and hit two free throws and Jones joined the scoring party with a huge three-pointer to regain a 62-61 lead with 6:23 left. Southern’s Montese Blake answered with a trey to regain the lead but Justin Hopkins drove to the basket and scored another three-point play for a 67-64 TSU lead.
From there, the Tigers took advantage of the situation and upped their lead to 71-64 after a layup by Ewing. Southern closed to within 72-68 with 2:40 left but Ewing took over the game himself as he scored the final five points while SU went scoreless the remainder of the way.
Four Tigers scored in double figures as Hopkins led the way with 15 points. Armstrong and Ewing both added 14 points while Baldwin scored 10. Baldwin and Yahuza Rasas tied for the team lead with nine rebounds while Armstrong dished out eight assists.
TSU is back in action Monday night versus Alcorn State at 7:30 p.m. inside the H&PE Arena.