Golden Tigers roll to SIAC wins


TUSKEGEE, Ala. – The Golden Tigers came through a grueling five-day, three-game SIAC road swing last week, winning two out of three contests, thanks to their hot shooting.

They began the week with a 78-68 victory against LeMoyne-Owen Jan. 17 on the strength of their best shooting for a half this season. They suffered a gut-wrenching 59-57 overtime loss to Clark Atlanta Jan. 20, but bounced back with their best single game shooting percentage of the season in an 80-77 win against Morehouse Jan. 22.

The Golden Tigers shot 46% from the field for the three games with sophomore guard Calvin Thomas leading the way. Thomas averaged 17.6 points while shooting 55% (16-for-29) from the field. Thomas was lethal from three-point range as he made seven of 13 (54%) shots from behind the arc.

The Golden Tigers, winners in five of their last seven games, are 7-5 overall and 7-3 in the SIAC.

They broke open a tight game against LeMoyne-Owen in the second half. They made 16 of 27 of shots from the floor (59%) in the final 20 minutes for their highest shooting percentage in a half this season. They led by as many as 16 points in the second half after clinging to a one point lead at the end of the first half. 

Guard Lorell Friend sparked the Golden Tigers in the second half with a perfect shooting exhibition. Friend was 4-for-4 from the field and 1-for-1 from the free throw line, and he scored nine of his 14 total points in the second half.

The game was back and forth in the first half. LeMoyne-Owen held an early seven-point lead before the Golden Tigers rallied to go ahead by five points, 28-23, at the 7:24 mark. LeMoyne-Owen regained the lead, 30-29, three minutes later. But the Golden Tigers reclaimed the advantage, 36-35, going into the break.

Thomas was the catalyst for the Golden Tigers in the first half with nine points on 3-for-4 shooting.

The Golden Tigers, who beat the Magicians 77-67 at the James Center Jan. 6, built a 10-point lead in the first 10 minutes of the second half and took command of the contest. Aaron Ragsdale and Jeremy Williams led the Golden Tigers with 15 points each. Calvin Thomas added 13.

The Golden Tigers were unable to sustain their shooting accuracy in their overtime loss to Clark Atlanta, which featured tenacious defense by both teams. They were 2-for-8 from the field in the extra period and finished the game shooting 37% (23-for-62). Clark Atlanta shot just 33% (21-for-63). However, the Panthers were 12-for-19 from the free throw line, while the Golden Tigers were just 7-for-20.

Thomas was the Golden Tigers’ only consistent scoring threat. The MVP of the 2010 SIAC Conference Tournament made seven of 13 shots and scored a game-high of 22 points.

Clark Atlanta led most of the contest, but never by more than six points. Thomas’ jumper with 14 seconds left in regulation sent the game into overtime with the score knotted at 48-all. Neither team had scored since the 2:21 mark prior to Thomas’ bucket.

The game was tied seven times. The last deadlock came with 1:12 left in overtime on Andrae Nelson’s free throw that made the score 54-54. The Panthers went on to build a four-point lead, 58-54, before Thomas made a three-pointer with two seconds remaining. The Golden Tigers then fouled Logan Shoffner, who made one of two free throws for the final margin as the Panthers avenged an 83-74 double overtime loss to the Golden Tigers on Nov. 23.

The Golden Tigers regained their shooting touch against Morehouse. They connected on seven of their first 11 field goals and shot 58% (15-for-26) in the first half. The Golden Tigers cooled off in the second, but only slightly as they made half of their 26 attempts and finished the game shooting a season-high 54% (28-for-52).

Despite their torrid shooting and leading by 11 points at the half, 40-29, the Golden Tigers had to stave off a late Morehouse rally for the win after leading by 10 points with 6:32 left in the game.

Thomas led the Golden Tigers with 20 points, and Ragsdale had 19. Ragsdale also had 10 rebounds.

The Golden Tigers will hit the floor again on Tuesday night, Jan. 25.  They will meet the Kentucky State Thorobreds at the James Center Arena at 7:30 p.m.

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