College Basketball

J.C. Smith tops Tuskegee 87-77 in CIAA/SIAC Challenge

J.C. Smith’s Golden Bulls learned a bit more about who they are – and aren’t – at the CIAA/SIAC Challenge.

J.C. Smith roared to a 28-point lead in the second half against Tuskegee (Ala.) only to hold off the Golden Tigers 87-77 at Brayboy Gym on Friday. As well as things went over the first 30 minutes, the Golden Bulls had just enough to avert a colossal meltdown.

“They don’t know what it’s like to have a killer instinct,” J.C. Smith coach Steve Joyner said. “Some of them wanted to take over at incorrect times; they don’t know how to insert themselves or take themselves out of it, so it’s creating problems for us.”

Those issues didn’t exist until late in the second half. J.C. Smith (3-3) led 64-29 with 13 minutes left and was on the verge of putting Tuskegee (2-1) under when the Golden Tigers rallied behind forward Camden Foster, who scored 20 of his game-high 26 points after the break. Tuskegee chipped away at the deficit to get within eight in the final minute.

“The kids played hard and really tried to do what was asked of them from a coaching standpoint,” Golden Tigers coach Jerry Dunn said. “They’re learning and we’ll get better.”

J.C. Smith’s balance was key to opening a huge lead. Five Golden Bulls broke double-figures in scoring, paced by shooting guard Raston Brown’s 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, six rebounds and four assists. Forward Alandre Davis added 14 points and seven boards, and Markell Lotharp chipped in 13 points, five rebounds and three blocks off the bench. Stredmon Lemon and Robert Davis added 11 points each.

As a team, the Golden Bulls connected on 58.3 percent of their shots (28 of 48), including 65.2 percent in the second half, but Tuskegee forced 21 turnovers, including 12 after intermission.

“I thought we executed very well in the first half except for the last three minutes,” Joyner said. “We created some bad mistakes, and they cut the lead to nine. I thought there was a momentum shift at that time that pumped some new life into them. Even though we went up big in the second half, they didn’t quit. They fought back.”