Regular Season Ends In Thrilling Fashion As Men’s Basketball Defeats Southern

For the second straight game, fans of the TSU men’s basketball team were treated to a wild ride as the Tigers once again battled back from a second half deficit to gut out an 80-74 win over Southern.

Southern would open the game full of energy as they quickly jumped out to an 8-2 lead less than three minutes in. Baskets by TSU’s Justin Hopkins and Michael Weathers drew TSU back to within 8-7 but SU immediately answered with a basket from Terrell Williams, Jr. to lead 11-7. TSU’s Karl Nicholas responded with a basket to close the gap to 11-9 but SU would remain hot as four TSU turnovers didn’t help the cause either as SU led 25-15 with 8:56 remaining.

A big offensive rebound by John Walker III led to a Jordan Gilliam three-pointer and a 25-18 deficit. Weathers would steal the ball on the next play and fed Gilliam to cut the lead to 25-20 with 7:15 left. Southern would go back up by eight at the 5:50 mark but the TSU fans have come to love this season finally arrived over the next 5:56.

Down by eight, Hopkins scored a basket but TSU went scoreless for a minute until a free throw by Yahuza Rasas. SU responded with a jumper to move back up 30-23 at the 4:19 mark but both teams turned the ball over the next 43 seconds. Down 30-25, TSU went to work and turned a five-point deficit to a five-point lead behind the strength of a 12-2 run as Weathers led the way with eight points followed by three big free throws from Jordan Gilliam with 26 seconds left. SU’s Isaiah Rollins hit a trey with 17 seconds left but Weathers closed the half with a layup to lead 39-35 at the break.

The start of the second half saw TSU lead by as much as eight (46-38) with 17:07 left. However, Southern refused to go away as they outscored TSU 15-7 over the next four minutes and tied the game at 53-all with 12:52 on the clock. TSU would hold to the lead or remain tied four times over the next six minutes as the contest was tied at 61-all after a Weathers’ dunk.

Three free throws by SU’s Samkelo Cole gave SU a 64-61 lead and a missed TSU basket led to a 66-61 deficit as the clock read 5:47. Southern would lead by as much as six with 3:39 remaining but Justin Hopkins hit a much-needed three-pointer with 3:29 left to cut the deficit in half. Both teams would trade free throws but Weathers once again came up big as his layup with 2:20 left closed the gap to 72-70.

In foul trouble late, Weathers came up with the game’s biggest play defensively as he blocked an SU layup which John Walker III recovered with 1:47 left. Weathers was fouled and hit two free throws to tie the game at 72 but SU’s Brendon Brooks hit two of his own for a 74-72 lead. Weathers was fouled again with 1:28 left and hit two more free throws to tie the game and SU missed a layup attempt which TSU capitalized on and moved ahead 76-74 after Weathers’ layup.

Weathers blocked another SU shot on the next possession and Gilliam grabbed the important rebound as SU was forced to foul. TSU went 4-for-4 from the line to seal the win.

Weathers led TSU with 28 points, six assists, five rebounds, four blocks and three steals. Walker III added 18 points and six rebounds followed by 13 points and nine rebounds from Nicholas and 10 from Gilliam.

TSU will enter next week’s SWAC Tournament as the No. 3 seed and will face Alcorn State at 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 11 at Bartow Arena on the UAB campus in Birmingham, Ala.



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