Florida Southern vs. Tuskegee
by Nicholas Austin-Holliday
Even with the game being in the NCAA Division II men’s basketball tournament Florida Southern was playing a home game in front of their home crowd. The game was very close to a sell out as Fla. Southern fans entered in packs to watch their number one seed Moccasins take on the number eight seed Golden Tigers. The game was offensively explosive from the tip-off but in the end the eighth seeded Golden Tigers were able to upset the Moccasins 98-95.
The Moccasins scored the first three points of the game much to the delight of the crowd but the Tigers quickly set the game pace by going on an 8-0 run. With 16:17 left in the first half the Mocs coach called a timeout to try and get his team focused as the Tigers had already built a 12-5 lead. The Mocs fans cheered defense on every Tiger possession but the Tigers were not phased and extended their lead to 18-8 with 13 minute left in the half. With a little over seven minutes to go in the half the Mocs were able to close the lead to six (27-21) with some good mid range shooting. The Moccasins made a run and a made free throw by Dominique Williams brought them within only two points (27-25) of the Tigers. Elliott Dean for the Tigers scored his team’s next five points but the Mocs were able to stay within one point of Tigers, nonetheless the Tigers took a 38-35 lead into halftime.
Both offenses picked up where they left off in the second half but the Tigers fought hard to keep their lead and with 13:41 left in the game they held a 55-49 lead. The Moccasins Frank Adams scored on a fast break lay-up, Kevin Capers hit one of two free throws, and Garrett Putman scored on a put back lay-up which moved the Mocs within one. The Tigers followed with a 6-0 run which pushed their lead to seven and with 9:20 left in the game the Tigers led 64-57. Kevin Capers, the Mocs best offensive player, scored his team’s next five points which moved the Mocs within one of tying the game. With a strong scoring play down low by Stephen Battle the Mocs were able to take their first lead of the game since being up 3-0 to start the game. The teams traded lay-ups and score was 70-70 with 5:21 left on the clock. The scoring output had already started shifting away from team points to individual scoring earlier in the half but the fans were in for a show by the Mocs Kevin Capers who finished with a game high 46 points and the Tigers Elliot Dean who finished with 31.
With 2:03 left in the game the Tigers pushed their lead to eight but with a huge dunk by Kevin Capers and a three pointer by Tyler Kelly the Mocs were able to stop the bleeding. The Mocs Dominique Williams gave his team a boost with a three point play the hard way which brought him team within one point of the Tigers (91-90) with only 23 seconds left in the game. Every fan stood on their feet to cheer the finals seconds of what had become a nail biter. Unfortunately fouls out of necessity by the Mocs and made free throws by the Tigers would be the writing on the wall.
The Mocs Kevin Capers put on a show but he didn’t have much help and his 9 of 17 from the free throw line definitely didn’t help when they were needed the most. The Tigers as a whole displayed superior athleticism and more team consistency which led to them being able to upset the one seed Moccasins. Most fans in attendance did not expect Florida Southern to lose to an eight seed but the Tuskegee team came in with a plan, executed it perfectly, and came away with a big win.