Even though the SWAC Tournament starts next week, the Tigers of Texas Southern had a tournament tough contest as they fought back from a double-digit deficit to earn an 80-78 win Thursday night at the M.O. Campbell Center.
Due to the conditions of the floor at H&PE, TSU was forced to make a 20-plus mile trek north which turned basically into a tournament atmosphere on a neutral floor. Alcorn State jumped out to an early 13-5 lead but TSU closed and drew to within one. TSU couldn’t get over the hump as ASU pushed its lead back to nine with 3:40 remaining. The Braves were up 39-31 with 33 seconds left but TSU’s Jordan Gilliam hit a late three-pointer as TSU trailed 39-34 at the half.
TSU opened the second half on a 9-2 run to lead 45-41 with 16:49 remaining. Both teams traded leads over the next few minutes but Alcorn State opened an 11-point lead with 11:22 left. TSU buckled down over the next few minutes and treated it like a one-and-done situation and outscored ASU 16-4 over the next three minutes to pull ahead 69-68 after Michael Weathers’ jumper. During the run, TSU got physical and muscled its way to the free-throw line as they went 6-for-6 from the line in addition to forcing four turnovers.
Troymain Crosby hit two free throws to move ASU back ahead 70-69 with 7:23 left and a missed Tigers basket led to two free throws by ASU’s Byron Joshua for a 72-69 deficit. Galen Alexander hit a tough jumper to trim TSU’s margin to one. Alcorn had two chances to regain the lead but missed both attempts. On the ensuing possession, Weathers grabbed the offensive rebound and scored for a 73-72 TSU lead with 5:44 remaining.
From that point, the contest began to get tenser and physical as baskets became hard to come by. Neither team could score over the next two minutes as the drought came to an end with two free throws from Alexander for a 75-72 TSU lead with 3:47 left. Once again, scoring was at a premium over the next minute as Alcorn State cut the lead to 75-73 after a free throw from Tyree Corbett at the 2:01 mark.
TSU would miss a three-pointer with 1:34 left and Joshua once again scored as his layup tied the game at 75-all. However, TSU would answer as Karl Nicholas came up with a layup with 1:01 left followed by a game-changing block on the next play which led to an Alcorn foul. Justin Hopkins hit 1-of-2 free throws with 26 seconds for a 78-75 lead and the TSU defense forced Alcorn State to take an off-balanced three-pointer with six seconds left. Hopkins sealed the game with a pair of free throws for the win.
Weathers led the way with 18 with seven rebounds followed by 17 from Hopkins. Alexander added 14 while Nicholas scored 13 with three blocks. Jordan Gilliam scored 11 with three steals.
The Tigers are back in action Saturday at the M.O. Campbell Center as they’ll face Southern in their regular-season finale at 3 p.m.
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