LARAMIE, Wyo. — Texas Southern overcame a 21-point second-half deficit as Galen Alexander’s putback with 1.6 seconds lifted the Tigers to a 76-74 win over Wyoming Monday night at Arena-Auditorium.
The Tigers came out hot to open the contest as they hit four of their first five shots to jump out to a 9-4 lead nearly three minutes in. However, the Cowboys began to find their stroke as they hit four three-pointers over a seven-minute span which sparked a 25-7 run for a 29-14 lead with 9:35 remaining.
The Tigers would shoot the opposite as they missed 10 baskets. Sensing the game slipping away, the Tigers bounced back and outscored the Cowboys 10-5 over the next two minutes as Karl Nicholas led the way with five points as TSU was perfect from the field (4-for-4) during that span. Down by seven, the Tigers saw the momentum slip back to the Cowboys as Wyoming was nearly perfect (6-of-7) from the field to close out the half ahead 50-31.
The Cowboys opened the second half and remained in control through the first four minutes as they led 57-38 with 16:23 remaining. Once again, TSU saw the game slipping away and refused to go down without a fight as Michael Weathers and John Walker III scored four points apiece to spark a 15-7 run which closed the gap to nine at 62-53 at the 9:19 mark.
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On the defensive end, the Tigers buckled down and held the Cowboys to 3-of-13 shooting and forced three turnovers. Wyoming would push its lead back to 12 several minutes later but with Weathers guiding the offense, the Tigers began to get aggressive in the paint and slashed the Cowboys’ lead to 65-58 following a Weathers’ and-one.
Wyoming’s Marcus Williams would answer with a jumper on the ensuing possession but Walker III came up big again with a three-point play the old-fashioned way for a 67-61 margin as the clock read 6:17.
After two free throws by Wyoming’s Hunter Maldonado, Walker drove to the paint and hit 1-of-2 free throws but preseason All-SWAC First Teamer Yahuza Rasas outworked the defenders and came up with a huge offensive rebound and put back to draw within five. Wyoming would counter with a trey to up the margin back to eight (72-64) but Weathers’ driving layup kept TSU within striking distance.
With 3:53 left, TSU would miss a three-point attempt but Walker III grabbed a huge offensive rebound and found a driving Justin Hopkins who was fouled. Hopkins made both free throws to claw within 72-68. After a Wyoming free throw with 3:06 remaining, Weathers once again came up big as he performed an up-and-under move past the defender as the lead narrowed to one possession at 73-70. Wyoming hit another free throw and TSU grabbed a big offensive rebound on its next possession which led to a pair of free throws by Galen Alexander at the 2:18 mark for a 74-72 Cowboy lead.
TSU had an opportunity to tie the game off a great defensive play by Rasas but missed the ensuing layup. Wyoming missed its next basket and Weathers took matters into his own hands and hit a driving layup to tie the contest at 74-all with 1:20 left. TSU came up with a huge steal but missed the layup seconds later. However, the Tigers made up for it on the defensive end as Hopkins drew a huge offensive foul by the Cowboys to reclaim possession with 22 seconds left.
The Tigers left no doubt on their final possession when Weathers penetrated the lane and found Walker III for a potential game-winning layup. The shot was blocked but Galen Alexander worked his way into the paint for the put-back and secured TSU’s first-ever win over Wyoming in three tries and head coach Johnny Jones’ first over a Mountain West Conference program. In addition, TSU becomes only the second team from the SWAC to defeat Wyoming in 18 attempts.
Weathers led TSU with 21 points, seven rebounds and three assists while Walker III added 16 points and six boards. Alexander chipped in with 11 points and six rebounds followed by nine points apiece from Rasas and Hopkins.
TSU is back in action Thursday night at Saint Mary’s in Moraga, Calif. Tip-off is set for 9 p.m.
Courtesy: Texas Southern Athletics