Basketball Golden Tigers pick up two road victories



BIRMINGHAM, Ala. –  The Golden Tigers welcomed the New Year with their best long-distance shooting performance of the season while earning a pair of SIAC road victories and ending a two-game losing streak.

The Golden Tigers (3-4, 3-2 SIAC) shot a season-best 38% (8-for-21) from three-point range as they eked out a 74-72 victory against Miles in Birmingham Monday night; they outdid that effort Thursday night by shooting 40% (8-for-20) against LeMoyne-Owen while handing the Magicians their first home loss of the season, 79-69.

The three-pointer wasn’t a big part of the Golden Tigers’ arsenal during Coach Leon Douglas’ first five seasons. But it has become a primary weapon this season out of necessity because of their lack of size. No one on their 10-man roster is taller than 6-6.

“I’ve had to change the system,’’ Douglas said. “In the past, I had several big men and we centered everything around our strength which was our big people. Now that I don’t have big people, what we’ve done in the past we’ve put on the shelf. We’re more of a three-point shooting team and transition team. I’ve gone against every principle I ever had. I’ve given them green light. In the past, I held the reins. I didn’t want long shots. Now that has turned into a threat.’’

The Golden Tigers erased an 11-point deficit in the final 8:25 to beat Miles (5-5, 5-3 SIAC). Junior guard Calvin Thomas scored 10 of his game-high 30 points during the Golden Tigers’ comeback. Derrick White’s layup with 1:55 remaining tied the score at 72-all, and Lucius Winston scored the winning bucket on a fast break layup 30 seconds later.

White blocked an attempted layup by Eric Lipkin with four seconds remaining to preserve the lead. Miles retained possession when the ball went out of bounds with two seconds left. Josh Eichelberger stole the inbound pass to end the game. It was the third steal of the game for Eichelberger, who also had 14 points and 10 rebounds.  Eichelberger was named SIAC Player of the Week for Jan. 1-7, 2012.

The Golden Tigers also rallied from behind in their victory against LeMoyne-Owen (5-5, 5-3 SIAC). They overcame a 40-32 halftime deficit on the strength of their three-point shooting. They were 5-for-9 from behind the arc in the final 20 minutes.

Thomas sparked the comeback, scoring 13 of his 17 points after intermission. Garland Robertson led the Golden Tigers with 18 points. He was 4-for-6 from three-point range. Eichelberger had his fourth double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds.

The Golden Tigers only have four returnees from last season’s 19-win squad. Douglas said team members are still learning to play with each other, and he is still learning his players.

“As we go along guys are becoming more familiar with each other,’’ he said.“I’m pleased with the young men we have. I’m adjusting to them. Each day I’m adding something different to accommodate them. Each day something new is popping up.’’

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