BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Texas Southern Tigers dominated in the second half to clinch the SWAC Tournament Championship in an 87-62 victory to upset No. 1 Alcorn State at Bartow Arena on Saturday.
With TSU’s 10th and back-to-back Southwestern Athletic Conference title, the team will advance to the 2022 NCAA March Madness Tournament for the 10th time in program history. The team will find out their destination on Sunday during the NCAA selection show.
John Walker III led the Tigers with 17 points, scoring 12 in the second half. SWAC Most Valuable Player P.J. Henry came up next with 15, scoring 11 of those points in the first half. A.J. Lawson completed the game with 14 points and Joirdon Karl Nicholas came up with 11 points.
“This is a great group of young men who several of them graduated last year,” TSU’s Johnny Jones said. “Several of them had a chance to leave and go on to play elsewhere or start another career. They decided to come back and try to repeat and they were able to do that.”
Alcorn kept the game close at 57-54 with over 12 minutes left in the second half, the closest the team would come for the remainder of the night, after a Justin Thomas layup, but Walker III would start a 9-5 run, silencing the Braves for four minutes. Thomas, who led the Braves with 18 points, would be the player to break the drought with a completed free throw, but the Tigers would answer immediately with a layup by Bryson Etienne followed by a Brison Gresham dunk off a steal from Etienne.
Byron Joshua also came in double digits for the Braves, finishing the game with 13 points.
“Our motto is making sure that we play every second, every play, that’s the most important thing for us,” Jones said. “It’s 40 minutes in the game or however long it takes, we’ve got to make sure that we stay focused and really stay in tune with what we’re doing and I thought our guys did that.”
The first half of the game marked the beginning of TSU’s dominance, as the Tigers opened the game leading 13-9. Alcorn State would keep a grip on the game, tying it at 13 with two completed free throws from Thomas. A jumper from Henry and a three-pointer from Walker III would kick the score up 18-13. The Tigers would eventually close out the first half leading ASU 42-38.
The game would be tied as many as four times in the first half, but the Braves would not be able to turn the tide in its favor.
Alcorn State has yet to see a SWAC title in 20 years and has not appeared in the NCAA Tournament since 1984.
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