NORFOLK, VA – Ed Stephens tossed in 24 points, including five in the extra period, to lift seventh-seeded South Carolina State to an 82-77 overtime win over 10th-seeded Florida A&M Tuesday in first-round action of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament at The Scope.
Greg Mortimer added 20 points, including 13 in the first half for the Bulldogs, who outscored the Rattlers 11-6 in the extra period.
With the win, Coach Murray Garvin’s team earned a berth in Wednesday’s quarterfinals against second-seeded Norfolk State at 8 p.m. The Bulldogs improved to 11-19 on the season, while Florida A&M wrapped up its campaign at 7-23.
SC State, which led for most of the contest needed two free throws from Eric Eaves with 2.5 seconds left in regulation to get to the extra period, which ended deadlocked at 71-all. Florida A&M first five points in overtime to build a 76-71 advantage when Marcus Barham made one of two from the line with 2:31 left.
Stephens closed the gap to 76-74 with 2:22 left in overtime and Ty Soloman followed with his only basket of the night — a 3-pointer – to give SC State a 77-76 lead with 1:40 to play. Following an offensive foul on FAMU’s Nasir Gore, Orangeburg’s Tashombe Riley took a pass inside from Stephens, put in a layup and was fouled. He completed the three-point play for an 80-76 Bulldog lead with just 29 seconds on the extra-period clock.
Stephens added two free throws and the Rattlers’ Brendon Myles got a put back at the buzzer for the final margin.
The Bulldogs, who led by four at the break, went ahead by nine twice in the second half, the final time 63-54 when Eaves completed a three-point play with 5:36 to play in regulation. The Rattlers chipped away at the lead and went ahead 68-67 on a jumper by Desmond Williams, who led FAMU with 23 points, with 1:42 left in regulation.
Freshman Damani Applewhite, who finished with only four points for SC State, drove the baseline for a layup and a 69-68 SC State advantage at the 1:14 mark, but the Rattlers got the next three points, all from the charity stripe to take a 71-69 lead with just eight seconds on the clock. Eaves pulled the Bulldogs even and forced the extra period when he made two free throws after being fouled with 2.5 seconds left in regulation.
SC State, using the long ball, led by as many as 10 in the first half before settling for a 34-30 edge at intermission. The Bulldogs connected on eight 3-pointers in the opening period, four by Stephens and three by Mortimer. Reserve Janai Raynor-Powell had the other basket from beyond the arc in the first half for Garvin’s squad.
The Bulldogs, whose first six baskets came from long range, built a 9-4 lead when Mortimer got the first of his 3-pointers in the period with 16:22 on the first-period clock, but the Rattlers stormed back to grab an 11-9 edge when Marcus Myles nailed a 3-pointer for FAMU with just under 13 minutes left in the half.
SC State came back to build a 27-17 edge on Riley’s follow shot with 7:26 left in the first period but the Rattlers closed the gap to 34-30 at the half.
Courtesy: SCSU Athletics