Point University (8-21) tied the game at 78-78 with one minute left, but Benedict College (18-7), an NCAA Division II program, hit a shot in the paint with three seconds remaining that gave the Tigers an 80-78 victory over the Skyhawks in Tuesday, Feb. 13 non-conference action in West Point Park Gymnasium. The game was the first basketball game between the two schools.
The first half featured four ties and 11 lead changes. Point’s biggest lead of the half was 34-28 with 4:26 left, and Benedict’s biggest lead of the opening half was five points, 23-18, with 10:14 to go. The Skyhawks held a 42-40 halftime lead after junior forward Taboris Griggs (Decatur, GA) made a clutch threepointer with eight seconds left before intermission.
Griggs totaled 17 points with 3 three-pointers, and freshman guard Tyonn Stuckey (Columbia, S.C.) scored 12 with 2 threepointers and had three assists and three steals in the first half. Guard Dimitri Cook scored nine points and passed four assists, and forward Brandon Moore added eight points in the first half.
Point made 16-of-36 shots (.444) and 8-of-19 three-pointers (.421) and committed just five turnovers in the first half, while Benedict hit 16-of-31 shots (.516) and made 4-of-13 threepointers (.308) and committed eight turnovers and blocked four shots.
The teams were tied three times in the first three minutes of the second 20minute half, but Cook and Jalani Watson-Gayle made three-pointers for the Tigers and gave them their biggest lead of the game, 55-49, at the 15:37 mark. Griggs made a three-pointer and junior starting guard B.J. Brown (Powder Springs, GA) made a basket and a free throw during a six-point run that tied the game at 55-55 with 12:51 left. Point took a brief 61-57 lead at 10:20, its biggest lead of the second half, and Benedict outscored Point, 8-1, and took a 66-62 advantage with 7:20 to go.
After that point of the game, neither team led by more than two points and was tied four times. The Tigers led 78-76 with 1:13 left, but Stuckey tied the game with two free throws with 1:00 left. Benedict burned 30 seconds off the game clock before missing a two-pointer but rebounded its own miss. The Tigers called timeout with 27 seconds left and again worked the ball around until guard Cairo Brown found an open shot in the paint and made what proved to be the gamewinner with three seconds showing on the game clock. Stuckey’s three-pointer missed as time expired.
Stuckey, Point’s leading scorer (16.9 ppg), totaled 21 points, 3 three-pointers, three rebounds, four assists and four steals, and Griggs, who averages 11.6 points and leads the team with 71 three-pointers, finished with 28 points on 11-of-17 field goals and 6of-10 three-pointers and also gathered six rebounds and had two steals. Senior guard Joshua Tolbert (Auburn, AL) hit 4-of-5 shots with 2 three-pointers and totaled 10 points and three rebounds, and B.J. Brown, who averages 11.6 points with 43 three-pointers, finished with eight points and one threepointer. Freshman guard Jamvis Ponder (College Park, GA) contributed six points, one three-pointer and four assists.
Five Benedict players scored 10 or more points. Cook led with 21 points, 2 three-pointers, five assists and two steals, and Brown added 14 points with one three-pointer and the gamewinning basket, and also had five rebounds and one steal. Moore added 12 points, eight rebounds, four assists, one block and one steal, and Watson-Gayle contributed 15 points, 3 three-pointers, four assists and one steal. Forward Yasim Hooker added 10 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots. Point made 28-of-64 field goals (.438), 13-of-35 three-pointers (.371) and 9-of-11 free throws (.818), committed 12 turnovers and stole the ball nine times. Benedict made 30-of-64 shots (.469), 8-of-24 threepointers (.333) and 12-of-15 free throws (.800) and out-rebounded Point by a 38-34 margin. The Tigers committed 12 turnovers, blocked five shots and stole the ball from Point eight times. NEXT GAME: The Skyhawks, coached by Darryl Slack, hosts eighth-place Tennessee Wesleyan University (12-15; 9-10 AAC), Saturday, Feb. 17, at 4 p.m., for Senior Recognition Day, honoring five senior players, in West Point Park Gym. It also is the final game of the season for Point which did not qualify for the AAC Championship Tournament. Tennessee Wesleyan needs to win in order to keep the eighth and final playoff spot.