Texas Southern clinched its 10th NCAA and SWAC Tournament Championship with another dominant second half as they defeated Alcorn State 87-62 inside Bartow Arena on Saturday evening.
Considering the outcome of the past two games between both teams, it was set to be a barn burner full of intensity and physicality. And it was.
The first half was neck-and-neck as PJ Henry once again set the tone with seven early points as TSU led 13-9. ASU would tie it up at 13-all after a jumper and pair of Justin Thomas free throws but Henry again hit a jumper to move TSU up 15-13.
John Walker III drained a trey for an 18-13 lead and added another basket. Walker III had big block on the defensive end which set up a layup from Henry for the early 22-13 lead. Jordan Gilliam hit 1-of-2 free throws to up the margin to 10 at 23-13 to cap a 10-0 run.
Also read: Jackson State completes perfect SWAC season with NCAA Tournament berth
Alcorn State would answer with a vengeance as a 6-0 run closed the gap to 23-19 but John Jones would rescue the Tigers with five straight points to move TSU ahead 28-19 with 9:27 left.
The Braves once again came charging back over the next few minutes as TSU committed four turnovers en route to an 11-2 run which tied the game at 30 with 6:18 left. TSU would regain a 31-30 lead after a free throw from Karl Nicholas and increased it to 37-30 after five more points from Nicholas. However, ASU closed the gap to 37-35 but A.J. Lawson drew a foul and connected on two shots to up the score to 39-35.
Nicholas once again drew a foul and scored with 1:17 left for a 41-36 lead which increased to 42-36 after a Davon Barnes free throw. ASU would close out the scoring in the half with free throws for a 42-38 deficit.
Lawson opened the second half with a three-pointer for a 45-38 lead and the TSU defense arrived with a Gresham block which led to a Nicholas dunk. Alcorn State once again would inch away at the lead as they closed to 47-43 after a Byron Joshua three-pointer. ASU would eventually narrow it to 49-46 but Gresham once again hit a jumper to give TSU a 51-46 lead.
With 14:55 left, ASU canned a three-pointer to draw within 51-49 but Etienne hit a driving layup for a 53-49 lead. The Braves would continue to hang around for the next few minutes but TSU would kick the door in with an 11-0 run over the next four minutes which was fueled by the team’s defensive effort with three blocks. From there, TSU would impose its will over the Braves and wear them down as they cruised to its second straight and 10th SWAC Tournament title overall.
Walker III led TSU with 17 points, six rebounds and two blocks while SWAC Tournament MVP Henry added 15 points and five rebounds. Lawson scored 14 with 11 points and eight boards from Nicholas. Gresham chipped in with 10 points, seven rebounds.
Courtesy: Texas Southern Athletics