Chris Craig’s layup as time expired gave TSU its first SWAC win of the season as they rallied back from a double-digit deficit for an 84-82 win over Jackson State on Monday night inside the H&PE Arena.
Jackson State started off red hot from the field to open the contest as they shot 6-of-7 including all of its three-point attempts en route to a 15-5 lead within the first four minutes. TSU made 2-of-3 field goals during that span but committed four turnovers. The turnover bug would continue to hit TSU with four more over the next minute while JSU remained hot and extended its lead to 22-7 at the 12:48 mark.
Jackson State would remain in double digits the rest of the half as they led by as much as 17 en route to a 47-31 lead. JSU shot over 50 percent in the first half while TSU was in the 30 percent range along with 13 turnovers.
Jackson State controlled the first part of the second half as they led by as much as 14 within the first six minutes but the tide of the game would turn in a matter of minutes.
After an uncharacteristic first-half and sluggish second-half start, the Tigers would wake up and outscore JSU 24-13 over the next nine minutes as two John Walker III free throws tied it at 73-all with 4:51 left. TSU went 11-of-14 from the field during the run as Walker III scored 13 while Davon Barnes and Zytarious Mortle combined for 14 points. TSU also won the rebounding battle 10-2 and hit three, three-pointers.
From there, it was back-and-forth as JSU went ahead with two Trace Young free throws but a dunk from Walker III tied it at 75 once again. JSU would turn to Young to keep them in the game as the Alabama State transfer scored the next five points as they would extend its lead to 81-76 with 1:52 remaining.
TSU would rally back as Karl Nicholas dunked home a basket to draw within 81-78 and had a chance to draw even closer after a JSU miss but Walker missed two layups and Nicholas was whistled for a foul on the rebound attempt with 1:02 left.
JSU would miss the 1-and-1 and Mortle slashed the lane and drew a foul to get within 81-80 with 51 seconds remaining. The free throw attempt was missed however and JSU forced another TSU foul which caused Nicholas to exit the game unfortunately. JSU would miss the free throw attempt and Walker III was fouled 17 seconds later at the 34-second mark. He would miss the shot but TSU regained possession of the ball after a replay review.
With 30 seconds on the clock, Mortle took control of the ball and soared well above his defender to hit a huge jumper which gave TSU an 82-81 lead. Young would miss the layup attempt for JSU but teammate Ken Evans was fouled on the offensive rebound. Evans hit 1-of-2 free throws with 14 seconds left and TSU drove the ball to midcourt for a big timeout at the nine-second mark.
With time winding down, Walker took the pass and gave it up to Kehlin Farooq. Farooq found Chris Craig underneath the basket with time winding down for the game-winner off the glass.
Walker III led TSU with 28 points while Mortle added 22 points and five rebounds. Barnes added 16 points with five rebounds and eight assists. Nicholas made his return back to the court felt with three blocks, three steals, and four assists.
TSU is back in action on Saturday at Alabama A&M for a 5 p.m. start in Huntsville, Ala.
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