BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Benedict College Tigers built a large first-half lead and held on for a 59-46 victory over Kentucky State in the opening round of the 2015 SIAC men’s basketball tournament in the Bill Harris Arena on Monday.

The Tigers now advance to the quarterfinals, and will play Stillman, the No. 1 seed from the western division Wednesday.

Benedict (16-11) shut down Kentucky State (8-18) in the first half, holding the Thorobreds to 29 percent shooting and forcing nine turnovers.

Benedict was consistently able to race down the court after turnovers or missed shots and had a 15-point lead, 33-18 at the break.

“We dictated the tempo, we dictated the pace,” Benedict coach Fred Watson said. “Defensively, we were aggressive and got the ball out of the guys’ hands who could hurt us. We rebounded the ball well. We moved the ball from side to side on the offensive end.”

Kentucky State was able to close the gap to seven points late in the game, but the Tigers were able to control the offense and let guard Brennan Reynard attack the basket to seal the victory.

Reynard flirted with a triple-double, scoring a game-high 16 points, while grabbing eight rebounds, equaling for the game high, to go along with a game-high seven assists and four steals.

“We just did a good job down the stretch, particularly Brennan, and getting baskets when we needed. We talked about players having to make plays to win this tournament, and down the stretch, when things kind of tightened up for us, we put the ball in one of our best players’ hands and he made plays.”

Deonte Johnson added 11 points for the Tigers and had eight rebounds.

Ulysses Thomas led Kentucky State with 12 points.

“They did a phenomenal job of taking us out of what we wanted to do,” said Kentucky State head coach Antwain Banks. “They capitalized on turnovers and our bad shots, which are just as bad as turnovers. That deficit in the first half was just too much for us.”

Benedict led 12-8 with 11:53 left in the first half before going on a 12-2 run. Kel Robin had back-to-back baskets to start the run, and Andrew Crawford capped off the run with a 3-pointer.

Benedict now takes on Stillman in Wednesday night’s final game. In their only meeting this season, Benedict defeated Stillman 67-58 in Columbia on Jan. 3.

thesiac.com



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