NORFOLK, Va., March 7, 2017-Edward Stephens scored five of his game-high points in the overtime to lead South Carolina State to an 82-78 win over Florida A&M in the first round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament at the Norfolk, Scope.
The Bulldogs (11-19), the Number 7 seed, advances to the quarterfinal round against Norfolk State, the Number 2 seed on Thursday.
The game was entertaining from the start. The Bulldogs controlled the tempo though most of the first half as Greg Mortimer tallied 13 points of his 20 and Stephens collecting 12. The Rattlers (7-23), the Number 10 seed, relied on some balanced scoring as seven different players scored.
SC State led, 34-30 at the half.
It was a nip-and-tuck affair through most of the second half as the teams traded baskets until the Bulldogs got a small push and opened up a 56-47 lead at the 8:10 mark.
Stephens and Ian Kinnard did most of the damage for SC State.
Then the Rattlers closed with a 21-11 run to take the lead at 68-67 at the 1:15 mark. Florida A&M appeared to have a chance to close out the comeback when Nasir Core converted on a three-point play and Derrick Dandridge added a free throw to make it 71-69 with 8.0 seconds.
But Eric Eaves was fouled with 2.5 seconds and the senior calmly sank both free throws to send the game into an extra period.
Florida A&M bolted out to a 76-71 lead on a basket by Desmond Williams and three free throws by Marcus Barham.
That was when Stephens got life back into his team with a three pointer to narrow the deficit to 76-74 at the 2:22 mark. Thirty seconds later, Ty Solomon connected on a trifecta that gave the Bulldogs the lead for good at 77-76.
Teshombe Riley converted on a three-point play, making it a two-possession game at 80-76 with 29 ticks on the clock. Stephens made sure the victory was in tow when he added two more free throws.
Desmond Williams led FAMU with 23 and Barham and Justin Ravenel contributed 13 and 12, respectively.
Stephens added 3 assists to his totaks and Mortimer 20 points and five assists.