Golden Tigers pound Lions and Rams, lose to Wildcats


TUSKEGEE, Ala. – Junior forward Aaron Ragsdale had a monster week for the Golden Tigers, who won two out of three SIAC games.  Ragsdale was named the SIAC Player of the Week.

Ragsdale averaged 17.3 points and 11.0 rebounds as the Golden Tigers ended a two-game road trip with a 66-60 victory against Paine College on Jan. 31 before returning home and splitting games with Fort Valley State and Albany State at the James Center. Fort Valley State saddled the Golden Tigers with their first home loss, 80-70, on Feb. 3. They bounced back to end the week with a 68-57 win against Albany State. Ragsdale had two scoring-rebounding double-doubles during the week, giving him seven for the season.

The Golden Tigers (11-7, 11-5 SIAC) have won seven of their last 10 games. 

Ragsdale was a one-man wrecking crew for the Golden Tigers against Paine with 23 points, his season high, and 15 rebounds, the team’s single-game season high. But it was the Golden Tigers’ second-half lockdown defense that propelled them to a come-from-behind victory. Trailing 34-30 at the half, the Golden Tigers held Paine to 23% (5-for-22) from the field over the final 20 minutes.

The teams exchanged leads in the first half. The Golden Tigers went ahead for good with 15:32 remaining in the contest when Calvin Thomas scored on a jumper that made the score 40-39. They built their lead to 11 points, 61-50, with 3:41 left.

Paine went on a 10-0 run that cut the Golden Tigers’ advantage to 61-60 with 1:26 remaining. Paine was 6-for-6 from the free throw line during the spurt. The Lions made 18-of-29 foul shots in the game. The Golden Tigers were just 10-for-21 from the free throw line, but they were nearly perfect when the game was on the line as they made five of six attempts in the final 34 seconds to seal the victory.

The Golden Tigers were gracious hosts when they returned home to play Fort Valley State after a pair of road games. They spotted Fort Valley State an 11-point lead in the first 10 minutes, and the Wildcats gladly continued to build on it the second half. Fort Valley State increased its advantage to 22 points, 67-45, with 8:49 remaining in the game, thanks to a 13-1 run.

The Golden Tigers cut Fort Valley State’s margin to single digits in the final four minutes but were unable to come closer than eight points of the lead.

Ragsdale led the Golden Tigers with 16 points; Thomas added 13.

Fort Valley State’s three-point shooting spelled the difference in the contest. The Wildcats were 10-for-18 from behind the arc (55.6%). They made 18 two-point field goals, one more than the Golden Tigers, who were 5-for-19 on three-pointers.

The Golden Tigers bounce back from that defeat with a victory against Albany State that avenged a 65-59 loss on the Golden Rams’ homecourt in December.

The Golden Tigers put the game way with spurts during the final five minutes of the first half and the first three minutes of the second half. They ended the first half with a 12-3 run that gave them a 37-25 halftime lead. A 5-0 burst at the start of the second half took the Golden Rams out of the contest. Freshman Javier McKinney sparked the first-half run with six points. He also nailed a three-pointer and made a three-pointer to help the Golden Tigers get out of gate at the start of the second half.

McKinney finished the game with 18 points.

The Golden Tigers increased their lead to as many as 17 points.

Andrae Nelson led the Golden Tigers with 20 points, with 15 of them coming in the second half. Ragsdale had his second double-double of the week with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

The Golden Tigers will host the Panthers of Claflin University on Tuesday night at the James Center Arena at 7:30 p.m.

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