Texas Southern overcame a slow start early but couldn’t close down the stretch as Southern claimed the SWAC opener 63-50 Monday night.
It took time for TSU to regain its footing after being off for nearly a month as TSU committed an uncharacteristic eight turnovers within the first 5:35 as Southern stormed out to a 13-2 lead. Forced to use the bench earlier than normal due to the troubles, the Tigers would commit three more turnovers from that point before ending the drought on PJ Henry’s three-pointer with 13 minutes remaining.
Henry would guide TSU through troubled waters over the next seven minutes as he scored six more points coupled with four from Karl Nicholas as TSU settled down with a 10-4 run which cut the deficit to 17-15 with 5:55 remaining. Southern would answer with a layup as Jayden Saddler got behind the defense in the paint to move ahead 19-15 on the ensuing possession.
The roles would reverse over the final 5:54 as Southern went 5-of-7 from the field which also included a 7-2 run over the final 3:50. Despite the run, TSU hung tough but couldn’t make more of a dent as they couldn’t capitalize from the free throw line with five missed attempts as SU claimed a 30-22 halftime lead.
Southern came out of the locker room hot as they connected on five of its first nine shots during an early 10-6 surge which pushed its lead to 40-28 at the 13:20 mark. However, TSU began to regroup and went to work on both ends of the floor as they put together an 11-3 run over the next three minutes.
With the deficit cut to 43-39 at the 9:54 mark, Southern’s Brion Whitley nailed a three-pointer from the corner for a 46-39 margin. A technical foul was issued to TSU several seconds later and Saddler scored the next three points for SU as the close contest now turned into a 49-39 SU lead with 9:04 left. The deficit grew to as much as 11 (51-40) with 7:54 left but TSU once again made a late push with three straight baskets over the next 2:29 to trail 52-46 which led to a timeout.
The Tigers had SU on the ropes at that point as the Jaguars missed its next shot attempt following the timeout but turned the ball over on the next offensive possession on a jump ball. TSU would force a turnover immediately after, but Whitley read the pass all the way on the defensive end and scored an easy dunk as SU went ahead 54-46 with 3:55 left. TSU would miss a three-pointer and a free throw on its next two possessions but stayed close after AJ Lawson drew a charge off an SU offensive rebound. However, TSU turned the ball over on its next possession and committed an intentional foul to prevent the fast break score. Saddler hit both free throws to up the margin back to double digits (56-46) and two more SU free throws with 2:23 left created a 12-point deficit. From that point, TSU wouldn’t recover as SU closed out the contest.
Nicholas led TSU with 16 points and 12 rebounds and a block. Henry added 11 with three assists.
Courtesy: Texas Southern Athletics