Three players scored 20 or more points for Texas Southern as the Tigers overcame a 14-point second-half deficit to claim a 77-74 win over Jackson State Saturday night inside the H&PE Arena.
JSU would lead by 14 on two occasions within the first two minutes of the second half but TSU began to methodically chip away at the lead from that point. Down 44-30 at the 18:31 mark, the Tigers turned to Yahuza Rasas over the next three
minutes as he sparked an 8-0 run with four points as the lead was cut to 46-38 with 15:15 remaining
Jackson State responded with a 6-0 run of its own to push its lead back to 14 (52-38) over the next two minutes but Rasas answered with a trey followed by a Jayveous McKinnis dunk for a 13-point JSU lead. However, McKinnis was whistled for a technical foul for hanging on the rim and the Tigers took advantage from the free-throw line as TSU hit three free throws to close within 10. JSU turned the ball over on its next possession and Chris Baldwin narrowed the gap to eight after a layup but JSU’s Cainan McClelland hit a three-pointer to push JSU’s lead back to double digits at the 12:06 mark.
Rasas answered with a layup on the ensuing possession and the Tigers began to roll from that point with a 9-2 run that was capped off by Baldwin’s monster dunk off a putback for a 59-55 JSU lead. However, JSU fought back with six consecutive points for a 10-point margin but the next five minutes belonged to TSU.
During that span, TSU forced three JSU turnovers and Justin Hopkins became a one-man wrecking crew with six points as he ignited an 18-2 run which saw TSU claim a 73-67 advantage with 4:30 remaining after Bryson Etienne’s layup. From there, the Tigers went on the defensive end and held off several JSU charges but JSU closed to within one point with 38 seconds left after Roland Griffin’s layup.
JSU elected to call its final timeout after the layup but TSU crafted a press offense to get past halfcourt as Hopkins rebounded Rasas’ layup attempt and was fouled with nine seconds left. Hopkins hit both baskets for a 77-74 lead and JSU’s last-second three-pointer fell short as TSU swept the season series.
Jackson State took advantage of cold shooting by TSU in the first half and took control of the game with a 12-3 run to lead 27-16 with 6:15 remaining. TSU spent the rest of the half playing catchup as they would get no closer than eight points as JSU claimed a 39-28 halftime lead.
Hopkins led TSU with 23 points, eight rebounds and was a perfect 9-for-9 from the free-throw line. Armstrong followed with 20 points, five rebounds and four assists while Rasas had a double-double with 20 points and 16 rebounds.
TSU is back in action Monday night against Grambling State at 7:30 p.m. inside the H&PE Arena.