The South Carolina State Bulldogs dropped tough, 75-65, decision Saturday to visiting Savannah State in a crucial Mid-Eastern Athletic showdown at Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center.
It was the final home regular season contest and also "Senior Night", with SC State honoring four Bulldogs in senior's Adama "Louis" Adams, Chasen Campbell, Theron Stephens and All-MEAC forward Matthew Hezekiah.
Hezekiah led the Bulldogs with a team-high 15 points and 10 rebounds, while sophomore forward Daryll Palmer chipped in 10 and 11 rebounds in the losing effort. Savannah State had four players in double figures with Deven Williams leading the way with 16, junior guard Keierre Richards with 11 and Khiry White and Alante Ferry with 10 each .
"It was a disappointing loss for us tonight, "said Bulldog head coach Murray Garvin. We dug ourselves in a hole early on with them jumping out to a big lead and it caught up with us in the end."
"I would've liked to have gotten a win for those seniors (Hezekiah, Campbell, Stephens, and Adams) but it didn't work out that way," said Garvin. "We have to get back to work tomorrow and get ready for the final three games of the season."
The Tigers jumped out to an early 24-7 lead off a 3-pointer by freshman guard Jeremiah Hill at the 12:04 mark in the first-half. A layup by Fenner followed by a pair of free-throws by Richards gave Savannah State their biggest lead of the half 20, 42-27 with 0:52 seconds left. A 3-pointer by Theron Stephens closed out the first-half with Savannah State leading 47-30 over SC State.
Fenner's layup at the 8:54 mark in the second-half gave SSU their largest margin of the night 24, 69-45. The Bulldogs regained their momentum sparking a 17-2 run to cut the lead to nine, 71-62 with 1:19 remaining in regulation.
Free throws seemed to be the deciding factor down the stretch with the Tigers converting four straight from the charity stripe to secure the 75-65 victory over the Bulldogs.
South Carolina State falls to 9-17 overall, 5-8 in the MEAC, while Savannah State improves to 10-17 overall, 8-5 in the league.
The Bulldogs will return to action in a three-game road swing to close out the regular season beginning in Durham at NC Central (3/1/14) following with the Aggies of N.C. A&T (3/3/14) and the final game against Savannah State (3/6/14) in Savannah, GA. The 2014 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament will be held March 10-15 at the Scope Arena in Norfolk, VA.