Back-to-back Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion N.C. Central University faced off against the Texas Southern University Tigers last Wednesday to kick-start the NCAA March Madness tournament in Dayton, Ohio.
Defense was a big focal point in the earlier stages of the game as players on both no. 16 seed teams were aggressively defending each other down the UD Arena court.
The Eagles forced current Southwestern Athletic Conference champion TSU into missing multiple shots for a scoreless 3 minutes of play before the Tigers found their scoring groove and retook the lead.
While many NCCU players struggled to make any type of offensive mark, junior center Raasean Davis seemed unstoppable in the paint as he managed to enter the second half with 16 points and going 8 for 10 in the field. Davis ended the game with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Texas Southern went into the halftime break with a 10-point lead of 36–26 and kept the ball rolling to disrupt the Eagles’ potential comeback. NCCU went nearly 7 minutes in the second half without scoring a single point.
Throughout the entire game, however, the Eagles struggled from deep, missing every one of their 14 shot attempts from the 3-point line.
More missed opportunities from rebounds and fast break opportunities ultimately doomed Eagles from the beginning of the game to the end as they were unable to capitalize on the Tigers’ mistakes and amassed 15 turnovers of their own.
“Hats off to Texas Southern,” NCCU head coach LeVelle Moton said after the game. “We fell short tonight. We were outplayed — outcoached. They have been here before, they’re an older group and Mike [Davis, TSU’s head coach] does a great job with those young men.”
Despite their early exit, the Eagles impressed many by making it back to the First Four again without all of last year’s starters.
Moton is optimistic, saying the team’s future is “bright” and remains proud of each player and their recent success.
“I’m extremely proud of the group of young men in that locker room,” Moton said. “They have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. It was an honor and pleasure for me to coach them.”
NCCU’s men’s basketball team finally finishes their impressive 2017–18 season with a record of 19–16 overall.