ICYMI: Benedict Tops Central State OT to advance in SIAC Tournament

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Benedict College Tigers advanced to the semifinals of the 2018 SIAC Men’s Basketball Tournament with a 70-66 overtime upset victory over Central State on Wednesday night in the Bill Harris Arena.

Brandon Morris hit one of two free throws with 3.8 seconds left to tie the game, then Jelani Watson-Gayle hit a 3-pointer to open the extra period, and the Tigers stayed in control in overtime to knock off the top seed from the West Division.

Morris finished the game with a game-high 22 points, while grabbing nine rebounds. Cairo Brown added 14 points, while Watson-Gayle connected on three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points. Benedict improves to 21-9 on the season. Central State wraps up the year at 14-15.

Benedict advances to Friday’s semifinal against either Clark Atlanta, the second seed from the East, or Albany State, the sixth seed from the East. Clark Atlanta and Albany State meet in a quarterfinal contest at 8:45 p.m. on Thursday, with the winner advancing to face Benedict at 8:45 p.m. (Eastern) on Friday.

The game was close from the start, with the Marauders using a 7-0 run late in the first half to take a 36-30 lead at the half.

The Marauders built the lead to 10 points, 57-47, with 8:14 left in the game, but the Tigers rallied with an 11-2 run to cut the lead to 59-58 after a layup by Brandon Morris to cap the run with 3:59 on the clock. Central State scored the next four points for a 63-58 lead with 1:52 remaining. Mike Udume answered with a 3-pointer to make it 63-61 with 1:42 remaining.

Morris hit one of two free throws with 42 seconds left to make it 63-62, then got back to the line with 3.8 seconds on the clock. He missed the first, but made the second to tie the game.

In overtime, Watson-Gayle opened the scoring with a 3-pointer for Benedict’s first lead since 21-20 with 8:12 left in the first half. Morris added a free throw and a layup for a 69-63 lead with 2:10 left. The Marauders didn’t score in overtime until Charles Ruise hit a jumper with 1:46 remaining.

Benedict shot 44.2 percent (23-of-52) for the game, while holding Central State to 35.3 percent (24-of-68). The Marauders shot 28.5 percent (8-for-28) in the second half. The Marauders out-rebounded Benedict 45-37, and had a 22-9 advantage in second-chance points.

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