Golden Tigers drop season opener on road, win home opener

11/24/2010

TUSKEGEE, Ala. (November 24, 2010) – Coach Leon Douglas is a big picture kind of guy. That is why he is not getting overly excited over the Golden Tigers' 83-74 double overtime  victory against SIAC preseason favorite Clark Atlanta last Tuesday night at the James Center.

To him, it was to be expected.

"When you are building a program, situations like that are big,'' Douglas says. "But, when you feel like you have already built your program, you do not focus on one game. You are trying to get a combined total (of wins) to end up where you want to be. It was a home game. That is what made it big, not because it was Clark Atlanta. We made a vow to win (all) 12 games at home. If we do that, that will put us in the top two or three (in the conference) automatically.''

The Golden Tigers, picked second in the preseason behind Clark Atlanta, are 1-1 with the victory. They opened the season with a 70-67 nonconference loss to Alabama A&M in Huntsville. The Golden Tigers don't play again until Dec. 4 when they play at Albany State in the first of three consecutive road games.

Douglas says he likes what he saw from the Golden Tigers in their first two games, particularly from a mental standpoint.

"We see that we can play in any situation,'' Douglas says, adding that he was especially pleased with the way his team performed in the overtime periods against Clark Atlanta. "In certain situations, we knew when to do things. In overtime, they knew exactly what we were going to do. We did not have to invent a play. They knew what to do. You expect that out of a veteran team.''

The score was tied 62-all at the end of regulation and 68-all after the first overtime. Lorell Friend was the hero for the Golden Tigers as they overcame a five-point deficit in the final two and half minutes of regulation, scoring five points and coming up with a crucial steal. His three-pointer with 58 seconds left in regulation tied the score at 62-62.

Friend finished with a game-high 21 points.

Forward Andrae Nelson, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds, scored four of the Golden Tigers' six points in the first overtime period. Aaron Ragsdale's bucket with 51 seconds on the clock gave the Golden Tigers a 68-66 lead, but Najee Lane made a pair of free throws with 30 seconds left to tie the score again.

The Golden Tigers held the Panthers to just one field goal in the second overtime and put the game away.

The free throw line was the difference for the Golden Tigers in their season opening loss to Alabama A&M. The Golden Tigers made five more field goals than the Bulldogs (27 to 22), and outscored them by five points from the floor. However, Alabama A&M had an overwhelming edge in free throws made and attempted, going 21-for-34 on foul shots while the Golden Tigers were 11-for-19.

"We had a chance,'' Douglas says. "We are improving. "The first two games show that from a mental standpoint we are getting there. I like what I've seen.''

Nelson had a strong game against Alabama A&M with 16 points and 11 rebounds, both team highs.

The Golden Tigers are off for Thanksgiving until Sunday when they return to practice. Douglas says rather than focusing on the things that the upcoming opponents do, practice sessions will be devoted to working on the little things that are often overlooked but invariably make the difference in winning and losing.

"We do not concern ourselves with what others do,'' Douglas says. "If we do what we need to do offensively and defensively, that should be enough because of our experience.''

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