The South Carolina State Bulldogs (1-1) posted their first win of the season, knocking off St. Andrews University (1-2), 59-55, in men's basketball action Sunday at Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center.
Preseason All-MEAC First team senior forward Matthew Hezekiah posted a team-high 17 points and grabbed five rebounds, while senior guard Adama "Louis" Adams chipped in 16 in the win.
"You never under estimate a team because of their division "said SC State head coach Murray Garvin. "We played a very good team tonight and we are very fortunate to come out with a win."
The visiting Knights of St. Andrews out-rebounded the Bulldogs 33-24, but it was the lofty 25 turnovers committed by St. Andrews proved to be the difference down the stretch.
SC State jumped out to a quick 13-7 off a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Shaquiel Mitchell at the 13:56 mark. A turnover by freshman guard Nathaniel Pittman, followed by a layup by Jordan Smith gave the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the first-half seven, 26-19, with 4:19 remaining.
A driving layup with 1:57 remaining in the first-half by junior guard Michael Woods pull the Knights within three, 28-25. South Carolina State led 28-25 over St. Andrews during intermission.
Hezekiah opened the second-half nailing a jumper to give SC State their biggest lead of the night nine, 34-25 at the 19:05 mark.
Garvin stated, "There isn't enough I can say about this guy (Hezekiah), it's a reason why he is Preseason First Team All-MEAC. We have to do a better job of getting him the basketball, because it gives us a chance to win when he's effective."
A 3-pointerby junior guard Aaron Smith sparked a 12-3 run to a 37-37 tie with 13:32 remaining in regulation. Pittman's hard driving layup with less than under 6:00 minutes to play gave the Knights their first lead of the night, 42-40.
The Bulldogs down by six, 43-49 with less than 1:47 remaining contest with back-to-back 3-pointers by Jordan Smith and Adama Adams to tie the game and force overtime, 49-49 with 0:33 seconds left to play.
South Carolina State held off a furious rally by St. Andrews to claim a 59-55 victory. Aaron Smith tossed in a game-high 18 points, while teammates Nathaniel Pittman and Michael Woods chipped in10 and 11 respectively, despite their loss.
"It was a pretty ugly, but it is a win," said Garvin. "We have to continue to get ready to play because now we move on the face a tough University of Michigan Wolverine team on Tuesday night."