Tigers Fall In OT To North Carolina A&T State

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – TSU’s potential game-winner in overtime fell short in the closing seconds as North Carolina A&T State claimed a 67-66 win in the opener of the Boost Mobile Chris Paul HBCU Invitational on Saturday at the MGM Garden Arena.
The opening nine minutes was a back-and-forth affair as TSU rode the hand of John Walker III for 10 early points while the Aggies had a balanced attack fueled by several alley-oops as they led 20-15 entering the second media time out.
A pair of A&T free throws upped the lead to 22-15 and moved ahead by double digits 25-15 until a Joirdon Karl Nicholas layup stopped the A&T run. The TSU defense stepped up its game and held the Aggies scoreless but the offense couldn’t connect from the field as they went scoreless for nearly five minutes until a pair of PJ Henry three-pointers within 20 seconds starting at the 4:42 mark as cut the deficit to 25-23 which led to an Aggie timeout.
A&T’s Kam Woods ended the drought with a jumper but TSU overcame a turnover as Davon Barnes scored off a cut to the basket for a 27-25 deficit. The TSU defense kept the intensity up and the Tigers managed to tie it in the closing seconds on another Barnes’ cut.
TSU scored the first five points of the second half to lead 32-27 and withstood A&T’s first basket with a Nicholas putback to remain on top 34-32. From that point, the Aggies got hot and tied the game before eventually reclaiming a 36-34 lead with a layup at the 15:40 mark.
TSU’s John Walker III got into foul trouble as he drew his fourth foul before the 14:20 mark and had to exit the game. With TSU trailing 37-34 at that point, the Aggies swung the game from that point with five straight for a 42-34 lead which forced a TSU timeout at the 13:32 mark of the second half.
Henry ended the TSU drought with a big three-pointer in front of the Tiger bench at the 12:30 mark as they trailed 42-37 but A&T answered with a layup in the paint to remain ahead by seven (44-37) on the ensuing possession. TSU missed its ensuing bucket and A&T drew a foul on the putback which led to a free throw for a 45-37 lead before the under-12 media timeout.
With 10:29 left, Nicholas took matters into his own hands with a tough up-and-under bucket to draw within 45-39 but missed the ensuing free throw to draw even closer. Henry’s bucket made it a 45-41 margin but a late foul call on an apparent Nicholas block led to an Aggie free throw as they led 46-41 with 8:29 left.
Woods remained a thorn in TSU’s side with four straight over the next few possessions as the Aggies upped the score to 50-43 before fouling Henry which led to a pair of free throws and a 50-45 deficit at the under-eight media timeout.
A&T’s Marcus Watson answered with a layup to up the margin back to seven (52-45). Despite having with four fouls, TSU head coach had to go back to Walker III and he responded with a jumper off a pass from Zytarious Mortle to draw within 52-47. TSU had an apparent fast break bucket off a sure turnover but A&T managed to retain possession before an official’s review confirmed a shot clock violation with 4:08 left.
TSU took advantage of the turnover as Nicholas was fouled and hit 1-of-2 free throws to draw within 52-48. A&T missed its next basket and Nicholas slammed home a Jordan Gilliam alley for a 52-50 margin. For the second time in the half, an apparent TSU fast break was negated as a late whistle stopped a potential fast break layup. TSU overcame the call and drew closer as two free throws from Nicholas tied it at 52-all.
TSU turned the defense back up and forced an A&T turnover on its next possession but Walker III’s three-pointer rimmed out with 1:49 left. However, TSU forced another Aggie miss and called a timeout to regroup with 1:26 left.
The timeout worked as Davon Barnes drew a double team which left Henry wide open for a trey and a 55-52 TSU lead with 1:19 left. However, Watson countered with an NBA length three-pointer to knot it up at 55-all with 40.3 seconds left.
Walker III hit a huge driving layup to give TSU a 57-55 lead with 24 seconds left but A&T drew a foul with three seconds left and hit both free throws to tie it at 57-all. TSU wouldn’t get off a final shot as the Tigers went back to overtime for the first time since Nov. 13.
Nicholas was fouled on the putback on TSU’s first possession and hit two free throws for a 59-57 lead. He made a huge play on the defensive end and drew a charge to retake possession.
PJ Henry penetrated and found Barbes for a big trey and a 62-57 lead but A&T answered with another Watson three as they trailed 62-60. TSU had an apparent bucket as they were open in the lane but misfired as A&T drew a foul and hit two free throws to tie it at 62.
Barnes scored a driving layup for a 64-62 lead and TSU looked to rebound a missed A&T bucket but turned the ball over which led to an Aggie three-pointer and a 65-64 lead. Walker III was fouled on the next possession but missed two free throws.
With 1:04 left, it appeared PJ Henry was going to pick up a steal but was whistled for a foul. A&T hit two free throws to lead 67-64 but Henry redeemed himself with a huge driving layup with 38.7 seconds left. A&T missed the ensuing basket but Henry’s game-winner fell short as A&T claimed a 67-66 win.
TSU closes out the invitational tomorrow against Hampton at 3:30 p.m. CST (1:30 p.m. PST) against Hampton.

Courtesy: TSUSports.com


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