Tyrell Tate and Fayetteville State finally vanquished J.C. Smith at Brayboy Gym.
Tate, a senior guard, delivered a three-point play with 14.3 seconds left to push the Broncos to a 71-66 CIAA South win on Saturday. Tate, who led Fayetteville State (17-6, 5-1) with 16 points despite 3-of-11 shooting, pumped in 10 in the second half as the Broncos swept J.C. Smith (13-9, 2-4) for the first time since 1994.
“It’s a big win because we’re a program on the growth and also because we’ve never beaten them here since I’ve been here. That makes it sweeter.”
The loss put a major dent in the Golden Bulls’ division aspirations and continued their stretch of inconsistency. Antwan Wilkerson poured in a game-high 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting and Robert Williams added 13 for J.C Smith, which struggled to find an answer for the Broncos when it was needed most. Although Fayetteville connected on just 21-of-67 shots (31.3 percent), the Broncos’ 21-of-26 free throw shooting was much better than the Golden Bulls’ 13 of 24, including 8 for 18 in the second half.
“Terrible,” J.C. Smith coach Steve Joyner said. “We practiced hard on free throws this week, but our concentration was not there. I thought we should’ve tried to get to the line a lot more, but certainly we went enough times to impact the ball game.”
Tate had a major impact at the end. With Fayetteville State clinging to a 66-63 lead, he scored on an isolation play for a three-point play with 14.3 seconds left that shut the door.
“My team always leans on me at the end of games in close games, just like I lean on them to keep us in the game,” Tate said. “They did their part, so I knew I had to do my part. The shot went in and I knew I was going to make the free throw.”
Both teams struggled offensively in the first half, combining for 3 of 19 from beyond the arc and 25 turnovers, but Fayetteville State seized the initiative with a 13-4 run over the final five minutes to take a 29-28 lead at recess. The Broncos, who connected on 10-of-35 field goal attempts (28.6 percent), went to the hoop during the run while J.C. Smith, which hit 11-of-36 shots (30.6 percent), struggled down the stretch.
Wilkerson paced the Golden Bulls with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting, while reserve guard Devin Thompson scored seven for the Broncos.