HOUSTON — It’s time to look ahead. The Tigers are done this year.
Grambling State University’s men’s basketball team lost to the Mississippi Valley State University Devils 87-73 in the first round of the 2016 Toyota Southwestern Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament. GSU’s Ervin Mitchell put up 19 points, and he had three assists, two blocks and two steals, but it was not enough.
The Tigers put up a fight with a good defensive game, but missed shots, turnovers and foul trouble did them in.
“This is the largest deficit my team has lost by this season (14 points),” said head basketball coach Shawn Walker. We have to address the issue of being able to shoot the ball.”
Both teams had slows starts in the Toyota Center. In the first half, the Tigers shot field goals under the 50 percentile range and they were in foul trouble early. Deonte Hearns had three of the team’s 12 fouls before the half.
At halftime, Hearns and teammate Nigel Ribeiro had only put up five points apiece while Marcus Romain of Mississippi Valley had 14 points and eight rebounds.
In the second half the Tigers worked hard in an attempt to make a return from a nine-point deficit. A 3-point bucket by Michael Bethea Jr, a stolen ball by Hearns and a two-shot by Chase Cormier helped the Tigers narrow the deficit to five points with 17:22 remaining.
With 8:42 left in the game, Hearns nailed a 2-pointer, he drew a foul and made his extra shot at the line, bringing the score to 55-54, and the Tigers were only a single point behind.
Ten of 11 of Walker’s players scored, but the Tigers were unable to get the lead in the last two minutes of the game as the Delta Devils started breaking away to win.
Hearns put up 15 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Romain of Mississippi Valley finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds and one assist.
Walker now looks ahead to next season.
“(T)he majority of my team will be coming back,” he said after the disappointing game. “I would expect us next year not to finish in last place of the conference.”