TSU connected on four free throws in the final 44 seconds and relied on its defense to do the rest as they defeated swac leader Alabama State 56-55 Monday night inside the h&pe Arena.
TSU'S PJ Henry scored the game's opening points courtesy of a three-pointer but the Hornets used the two-man duo of TJ Madlock and Micah Octave as they combined to score 13 points to spark a 13-4 surge over the first six minutes. Henry would end TSU's drought with a pair of three-pointers as TSU answered with a 9-3 run to get within 16-13 at the 11:17 mark. However, the Hornets would respond with a run of their own as they used a 9-2 surge over the next 6:22 to lead 25-15. TSU was only 1-of-6 from the field during that span along with four turnovers which helped ASU fuel the run.
ASU would remain ahead by double digits with 1:11 left but a pair of free throws from Jonathan Cisse and Henry sent TSU down into the half 31-25.
TSU opened the second half perfect from the field (6-of-6) as Grayson Carter and Deon Stroud combined to score 11 points during a 15-8 run which saw TSU claim it first lead since the 17:57 mark of the first half after Stroud's trey from the corner. From there, it was nip-and-tuck as TSU tied it at 43-all at the 10:59 mark on a free throw but ASU's CJ Hines hit a trey for a 46-43 lead.
ASU was successful with the three-ball again to claim a 49-45 lead with 8:25 left but TSU kept it close as they managed to tie it at 49-all with 6:58 left after two Chris Craig free throws. ASU's Sean Smith broke the tie with a jumper but Cisse's three-point jumper put TSU back on top 52-51 with 6:11 left.
ASU once again moved ahead 53-52 on an Eric Coleman bucket at the 4:53 mark and TSU couldn't capitalize on its next few opportunities after missing a pair of baskets. With 2:28 left, ASU misfired on a shot attempt but the ball slipped back into the hands of Sean Smith as he scored on a putback for a 55-52 lead.
With 2:09 left, TSU committed a critical turnover on its next possession which gave ASU the ball. ASU turned it back over after the timeout but TSU once again couldn't connect as Cisse's layup attempt rimmed out. On ASU's next possession, Madlock shot an airball which ASU couldn't rebound cleanly. Henry was fouled on the next play and hit two free throws for a 55-54 ASU lead.
TSU upped the pressure on the in-bounds play and TSU came up with a big turnover which led to an ASU foul with 44.8 seconds left. Deon Stroud hit two free throws for a 56-55 lead and ASU”s next offensive possession came up short but TSU committed an untimely turnover on the potential ice attempt which led to a foul and the ball in ASU's hands with 22.9 seconds left.
The Hornets had two good looks at the basket in the closing seconds but misfired on both attempts as the clock expired.
Henry, who scored his 1,000-career at the close of the first half, led TSU with 21 points. Cisse had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds while Carter had 10 points and seven boards.
TSU is back in action at Prairie View A&M on Saturday for a 5:30 p.m. tip-off.