In today’s college basketball world, it’s rare to see teams play a home-and-home series in the same season, let alone within a two-week period. But, sometimes it is all a school can do when they’re a mid-major team. Regardless of the reasons, a home-and-home series finished on Monday between the Tennessee State Tigers and the Stetson Hatters.
Game one of the series took place on December 5th, when the Tigers played host to the Hatters. The Tigers used a big first half, and Wayne Martin record a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds as Tennessee State cruised to the 74-54 win over the Hatters. Monday night, the action returned to Deland, Florida as the Hatters played host to the Tigers. Playing in front of their home crowd, the Hatters put up a better fight in this contest. Stetson had to play from behind on several occasions, ultimately forcing the game to double overtime.
Early on in the game, the teams would go back and forth as neither team was able to gain any sort of consistent momentum on offense. A layup from Divine Myles at the 13:48 mark of the opening half pushed the Hatters’ lead to four. Stetson slowly started to build on it from there as the first half moved along. Strong three point shooting from the Hatters allowed them to stretch their lead to as many as 10 points, with freshman Derick Newton connecting on a three-pointer at the 7:11 mark to give Stetson a 32-22 lead. Tennessee State kept fighting as they kept the game within range. A tip shot from Martin brought them back to within three in the closing minutes of the half.
Stetson would take a 37-31 lead into the break, but the Tigers were far from done in terms of their comeback efforts.
A mini 6-0 run by the Tigers was capped off by a layup from Darreon Reddick to open the second half. That prompted a timeout from the Hatters early in the second half, as the deficit was back to just three points. Myles would push the lead back to six out of the timeout with a three-pointer, but Tennessee State was still hanging around. After trailing for most of the first half, the Tigers would retake a slim two point lead on a three point jumper from Keron Deshields.
Stetson would try to pull away again, taking a pair of seven point leads. The Hatters could never fully shake the Tigers though. With all of the missed opportunities for Stetson to pull away, the momentum was on the side of the Tigers and they would capitalize. Deshields would hit a layup with 1:15 to play to tie the game at 67-all. Myles would miss a jumper and the game was off to overtime. Free basketball is a great way to cure the Monday blues.
In the first overtime, Tennessee State looked to be in full control for the bulk of the first extra frame. With 27 seconds left on the clock, Reddick hit a pair of three throws to give Tennessee State a 78-75 lead. Then, Newton calmly hit a clutch three-pointer for the Hatters shortly after to knot the game. Deshields would miss a jumper at the buzzer to send the game to a second overtime period.
The second overtime period brought more back-and-forth action, as both teams would trade the lead as the five minutes ticked down. After a missed layup by Cameron Harvey, Deshields would hit a crucial three pointer for the Tigers. That helped seal the deal for Tennessee State down the stretch. They made their free throws when it mattered and came away with the hard-fought 93-90 victory to sweep the season series with the Stetson Hatters.
For the visiting Tennessee State Tigers, four players reached double figures in the win. Forward Wayne Martin scored 23 points and 17 rebounds to give him two double-doubles against the Hatters on the season. Keron Deshields scored a game-high 27 points in the victory. Forward Demontez Loman recorded a double-double of his own, scoring 12 points and pulling in 11 rebounds in the win.
As for the Stetson Hatters, they had four players score in double-figures. Freshman Derick Newton continued his strong play on Monday, recording a team-high 22 points in the loss. Monday marked Newton’s fourth game of 20 or more points on the season. Guard Angel Rivera came off the bench to score 21 points. Guard Divine Myles had arguably his best game of the season. He recorded 20 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists in defeat. He only committed one turnover in the game and shot 8-of-12 from the floor.
The win was the fifth-straight for the Tennessee State Tigers (7-2). Their two losses this season have been by a combined 11 points, so their record could easily be better than it is now. They will look to keep their winning ways going when they take on the Lipscomb Bisons on Thursday night in Nashville.
On the contrary, the loss was the third-straight for the Stetson Hatters (3-7). After a strong road win over the Florida International Golden Panthers, the Hatters have been unable to build any momentum. They will look to get back on track on Wednesday night, when they take on the Albany State (GA) Golden Rams in Deland, Florida.