NEW ORLEANS, La. – The Spring Hill College men's basketball team opened the 2012 Big Easy Classic hosted by Xavier University (La.) with a 62-60 overtime loss to NCAA Division 2 opponent Tuskegee University at the Convocation Center on Friday evening.
The Golden Tigers (1-0) took a 7-0 lead to open the game until sophomore Frederick Gatson of Riverdale, Ga., scored five quick points and senior Brett Williams from Oviedo, Fla., followed with two free throws to knot the score at 7-7.
By halftime, Tuskegee held a 21-16 lead and was outshooting the Badgers 38.5% (10-26) to 22.2% (4-18).
With 14:48 remaining in the second half, Williams dropped in two more free throws as the Badgers clawed back into a 27-27 tie. The game was still tied at 32-32 by the 11:32 mark when Tuskegee's Moriah Johnson made it 35-32 with a 3-point basket, but junior forward Alex Looney from Mobile connected for two points on the other end and SHC trailed by just 35-34.
The Badgers took their first lead of the contest at 9:29 when by junior guard Robert Gipson from Mobile scored off an assist by Williams for a 36-35 SHC advantage. Five minutes later Spring Hill still clung to a 1-point 44-43 lead, but Tuskegee would convert 1-of-2 free throws to even the score once again at 44-44.
Tuskegee took a 50-47 lead at 1:14 when Javier McKinney was good on a 2-point field goal for the Tigers. Tuskegee would convert on 3-of-5 free throws over the final minute of the half and junior guard Todd Martin from Mobile answered with 3-of-3 free throws to make it 53-50.
Williams then stunned the Tigers by hitting a 3-point bucket at the buzzer after pulling down a missed free throw by McKinney at 8 seconds and going the length of the court to send the game into overtime at 53-53.
A long 2-pointer by Martin put Spring Hill up 57-55 with 3:31 to go in overtime. Then, at one minute to play, Tuskegee took a 59-58 lead off a 3-pointer by Calvin Tomas but Looney immediately answered with a basket on the other end make it a 60-59 game with 47.2 seconds to play. David Alexander provided the heroics for Tuskegee at 15.4 seconds with a 3-pointer that proved to be the game-winner as McKinney took away a steal with 1 second showing to secure the win in a 62-60 final.
Williams and Looney each had 13 points for the Badgers while Gipson added 11 points. Williams also corralled eight rebounds as the Tigers out-rebounded Spring Hill 42-36.
For Tuskegee, McKinney had 13 points and Shaquille Cook pulled down six rebounds.
As a team, SHC shot 36.2% (17-47) from the field and 20% (3-15) from 3-point land while Tuskegee connected on 38.5% (25-65) of their shots including just 18.9% (4-22) from long distance. The Badgers committed 22 turnovers in the face of 11 steals by the Tigers while Tuskegee turned the ball over 17 times versus seven SHC steals.
Spring Hill College (0-3) will remain in New Orleans on Saturday to challenge Jarvis Christian College in the final day of the Big Easy Classic at 2 p.m. in the Convocation Center.