Texas Southern opened its home schedule in thrilling fashion as the Tigers held off Lamar 76-73 Saturday night inside the H&PE Arena.
TSU held an early 10-9 lead in the first half but Lamar responded with an 11-3 run as they were aided by five TSU turnovers as they led 20-12 with 10:33 remaining. The Tigers would respond with a 6-0 run to close within 20-18 but Lamar countered with another 8-0 run over the next two minutes to lead 30-18 at the 7:17 mark.
The Tigers would begin to chip away at the lead over the remainder of the half as the duo of Tyrik Armstrong and John Walker III went to work. The duo combined for 13 points and led a late TSU charge as Lamar’s lead dwindled down to 35-34 with 1:40 remaining. Lamar’s Davion Buster hit 2-of-3 free throws with 1:16 left for a 37-34 lead but TSU’s Chris Baldwin hit a jumper to stay within 37-36. Lamar’s David Muoka answered with a layup off a putback at the 35 second mark but TSU’s Justin Hopkins ignited the crowd on the ensuing possession as his trey tied the game at 39-all with four seconds remaining as both teams went into the break tied at 39-all.
The Tigers upped their offensive intensity to begin the second half as they led 54-48 after John Jones’ trey at the 11:49 mark. Lamar would tie the game once again three minutes later but Walker III stepped his game up with six points over the next two minutes to spark a 10-2 TSU run for a 66-58 lead. However, Lamar refused to go away as TSU’s offense stalled while Lamar woke up as they closed to within 71-70 as the clock read 2:03.
TSU would survive three consecutive missed baskets by the Cardinals over the next minute and picked up some much-needed insurance as Armstrong hit a floater in the paint with 35 seconds left. Lamar would draw a TSU foul on the ensuing possession but went only 1-of-2 from the charity stripe as the Tigers led 73-71 with 20 seconds left. Lamar fouled TSU’s Chris Baldwin on the next possession and Baldwin hit 1-of-2 but Lamar answered with a layup in the paint to trail 74-73 with six seconds remaining.
TSU’s Bryson Etienne hit both free throw attempts at the five-second mark to up its lead 76-73 and the Tigers held ground as Lamar’s game-tying three-pointer fell short at the buzzer.
Walker III led TSU with a career-high 20 points and five rebounds. Armstrong followed with 17 points, five rebounds and four assists while Hopkins chipped in with 10 points and seven rebounds.