By Andre Monroe
The Texas Southern Tigers aren’t returning home yet. In a hard-fought game, the Tigers erased a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat Mount St. Mary and move on in the tournament. They were led by forward John Walker III who scored 19 points in addition to grabbing 9 rebounds.
The Tigers took soaking up the victory in the literal sense, drenching coach Johnny Jones’ with water in celebration
“They drenched me,” Jones said. “It’s one of the best feelings I’ve had with cold water on me in a long time”
The Texas Southern Tigers have every reason to celebrate, as they got the second NCAA tournament win in the history of the Texas Southern Program. The first half wasn’t kind to them, as they were down 10 heading into the second. However, a much needed spark emerged and the Tigers scored 11 consecutive points to start the second half. Adjustments were made and the Texas Southern dominated both ends of the floor from there on. Mount St. Mary HC Dan Engelstad, when asked if he anticipated the adjustments, had this to say.
“We talked about that they thought they could come out and press us, so we knew they’d run a diamond press. We knew they would make an adjustment; I didn’t know that they would trap us to that extreme…. and they got us sped up a little bit”
Engelstad was right, Texas Southern came out aggressive and the players of St. Mary did not look prepared for it. Even with the disruption of the trap, Mount St. Mary still managed to get good looks on offense. They just struggled knocking them down. At halftime, St. Mary shot 40% from the perimeter. That number dropped significantly in the second half, and Mount St. Mary ended with a three-point percentage of 27.3.
Texas Southern was led by forward John Walker III, who’s energy was contagious. He scored a season-high 19 points to go along with nine rebounds, a career-tying number.
“I feel like I’m on top of the world,” Walker said postgame. “After all the ups and down this year, it’s a blessing to be able to reap the benefits of our work”.
Walker and the Texas Southern Tigers are going to have to continue that work, as they draw Michigan on Saturday in West Lafayette. They’re going to have their work cut out for them, but Texas Southern is a tough-battle tested team.
By Andre Monroe