Golden Tigers drop SIAC contest to Golden Rams


TUSKEGEE, Ala. – Home court was no advantage for the Golden Tigers in their first game at the James Center this season as they dropped an 86-61 decision to Albany State.

The lopsided loss followed a two-point road loss to Clark Atlanta in which the Golden Tigers (0-2) played well enough to win. But they were betrayed by poor free throw shooting, missing 15 of 26 foul shots.

Against Albany State (1-2, 1-1 SIAC), the Golden Tigers, who have just four key returnees – forward Derrick White and Josh Eichelberger and guards Lucius Winston and Calvin Thomas – from the squad that won 19 games last season, were undone by sloppy ball handling as Coach Leon Douglas tinkered with his lineup. Douglas started freshman guards Kevin May and Jordan Benson in the backcourt instead of Winston and Thomas, and their inexperience showed. The Golden Tigers committed 21 turnovers, which Albany State converted into 25 points.

“It was a meltdown,’’ Douglas.“We didn’t play to win. I look at it as one of those games. We’re not panicking. We’re building. We don’t have the core group from last year.’’

May and Benson each only scored two points, and they had three assists between. However, Douglas says he saw some things that he liked in their play.

“I liked their level of intensity, and I see that they’re learning,’’ Douglas said, adding that 2011 SIAC Freshman of the Year Javier McKinney struggled early in the season last year and that Thomas, the 2010 SIAC Tournament MVP, didn’t come on until late in the season his freshman year.

“There’s no panic. We’re in good shape.’’

The Golden Tigers led briefly in the early going against Albany State, but never by more than two points. Albany State tied the score at 16-all with 13:02 left in the first period, and the Golden Tigers were never on top again. They were down 39-29 at half

The Golden Rams were on top by 20 points midway through the second half after leading by as many as 23 points.

Senior forward Derrick White was the Golden Tigers leading scorer with 20 points. Thomas came off the bench to score 15 points while going 9-for-9 from the free throw line. No other Golden Tiger scored in double figures.

The Golden Tigers return to action Tuesday at home against Claflin before making a two-game road trip to Florida to Eckerd College Dec. 17 and Saint Leo Dec. 18.

“I’m looking forward to Tuesday and Florida so we can do some team building,’’ Douglas said.

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