Savannah State University vs Benedict College

2023 TIAA SIAC Basketball Tournament

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  • Savannah State cheerleaders dance routine.

  • Savannah State point guard Ayjay Plain bringing the ball up the court.

  • Benedict College players Marshaun West and Felix Gue.

  • Savannah State mascot, “The Tiger.”

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Savannah State University hosted a conference basketball tournament on its home court for the first time in its hundred and twenty years of athletic history.

In a matchup between two Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) rivals, Benedict College was able to show who the best “Tigers” team was.

Savannah State jumped off to a tremendously slow start. The hometown Tigers struggled early on, only scoring seven points in the first seven minutes of the battle.

Benedict was able to frustrate the Tiger’s offense with high intensity, causing numerous lackluster passes, resulting in easy transition buckets.

Benedict guard Brandon Smith dominated in the first half, scoring 16 points. His leaping ability put fear into the defenders as they were hesitant to rise up with him in an attempt to block one of his many dunks.

Savannah State had no answers on the offensive side of the ball. For most of the first half, the Tigers were simply trying to hold onto the ball, let alone look to score.

The hometown Tigers had seven turnovers and only four made field goals with a few minutes remaining in the first half.

At the half, the hometown Tigers fell behind 22-39. A seventeen-point deficit seemed very manageable with only 6 made field goals at the half.

Before starting the second half, Benedict college’s assistant coach Phil Jackson said, “This game is going to be won on the defensive side of the ball. Savannah State is a good team, and with them playing at home we won’t be treading lightly.”

The second-half whistle blew, and the game continued as it left off. Savannah State went scoreless until the fourteenth minute left in the game. At this point, the visiting Tigers had their biggest lead of the game at 31.

After a series of scores from sophomore guard Austin Lewis, the Tigers showed glimpses of life as they managed to get the lead under 20 with ten minutes left of action.

Inch by inch, the hometown Tigers pulled closer. The panic in Benedict became apparent as a full-court press changed the game’s dynamic.

Savannah State made one final run with seven minutes to play. The energy in the building was electric as the hustle plays of Andrew Okorodudu cut the deficit down to just 6 points.

Each possession from this point was a battle, with no team able to gain the edge. In the end, the comeback wasn’t enough, as the Tigers were defeated 78-68.

Although the Tigers season is over, the (SIAC) tournament’s championship is set for Saturday at 7 p.m. For schedules, statistics, and where to watch, visit the 2023 SIAC tournament.