Courtesy of Texas Southern Sports Information
For the second consecutive postseason, TSU went down to the wire with Jackson State and came up with big plays down the stretch after a 54-50 opening round win at the SWAC Tournament.
With news of JSU’s head coach retiring once its season concludes, Wednesday’s opener had even more pressure for No. 2 TSU as emotions were turned up for JSU prior to the game. In addition to the emotions, both teams were two weeks removed from playing each other coupled with an unfamiliar arena which made every possession matter.
TSU started out slow as they shot 1-for-11 to open the game but the TSU defense made up as they held JSU to only one field goal as TSU led 5-4 with 13:42 left after Yahuza Rasas’ offensive rebound and layup. The lead grew to 7-4 37 seconds later after a driving layup from John Walker III and both teams exchanged buckets again as A.J. Lawson kept TSU up 9-6 after a layup in the paint.
Walker III and Rasas would combine to score the next 11 points for TSU as back-to-back three-pointers from Walker led to a 20-16 lead with 8:57 left. TSU would go scoreless for the next two minutes as JSU moved on top 21-20 before Brison Gresham’s layup with 6:41 left gave the lead back to TSU. However, JSU would counter on the ensuing possession and went on a 9-1 surge to up its lead to 31-23 at the 1:45 mark as TSU missed its next four shots.
Bryson Etienne ended the drought with a huge three-pointer and a JSU turnover led to a Yahuza Rasas’ bucket and a 31-28 TSU deficit. JSU’s Dyllan Taylor scored a basket with three seconds left to send them into halftime with a 33-28 lead.
JSU would lead 35-30 early in the second half but two Karl Nicholas free throws drew TSU back to within 35-32 with 17:30 left. Buckets were super hard to come by as TSU missed its first seven field goal attempts in the second half until Lawson’s layup closed the gap to 35-34. JSU immediately answered to move ahead 37-34.
JSU went back up 39-34 with 12:48 left but P.J. Henry answered with a huge trey to cut the lead to 39-37 10 seconds left. With 9:39 left, Henry picked up a steal and was fouled en route to a pair of huge free throws to tie the game at 41-all. Emotions would come into play over the next few minutes as couple of technicals were issued which led to the ejection of a key JSU player.
TSU finally jumped back on the positive end (43-41) with a bucket from Walker III but Jackson immediately tied it up. Karl Nicholas’ dunk off a back cut gave TSU a 46-44 lead but JSU tied it immediately once again with two free throws.
Both teams struggled to find the basket for the next two minutes as TSU’s Bryson Etienne was whistled for a charging foul with 4:30 remaining. On the ensuing possession, Lawson knocked the ball out of a JSU defender’s hand and Henry took advantage with a jumper for a 48-46 lead at the 4:20 mark. Both teams traded missed three-pointers and JSU would tie it again on an offensive putback.
Etienne made a huge scoop and under basket to move TSU back ahead 50-48 and a JSU missed basket led to a pair of free throws from Walker III and a 52-48 lead as the clock read 1:51. JSU’s Jayveous McKinnis dunked home a basket to get within 52-50 and TSU missed a go-ahead basket which gave JSU another opportunity. With 58 ticks left, JSU mishandled a pass and Nicholas picked up a big steal.
TSU let another opportunity slip on a shot clock violation with 28 seconds left but made up for it defensively as JSU turned the ball over thanks to solid defense from Henry. Etienne was fouled and hit two free throws with six seconds left to seal the win as TSU extended its streak of semifinal appearances to 11 straight since 2010.
Walker III led TSU with 14 points followed by 10 from Rasas. Brison Gresham had seven rebounds followed by six apiece from Nicholas and Walker III.
TSU will play either No. 3 Southern or No. 6 Grambling State on Friday at 2 p.m.
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vs. Southern or Grambling State
3/11/2022 | 2 p.m.
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