By Chris McCarthy/Editor
Playing in front of their home crowd for the final time, Gadsden State’s seven-member sophomore class left Beck Field House as winners on Monday (Feb. 23).
The Cardinals (18-11, 7-4) scored the final seven points in overtime to post a 93-88 win over Southern Union in Alabama Community College Conference action.
Gadsden State has already clinched a spot in the ACCC Tournament next week but must wait on the results of several conference games before their seeding is determined.
Gadsden State almost escaped with the victory in regulation, but Markeise Champion’s 3-point basket at the buzzer sent the game into the extra session at 83-83.
It was the fifth trey of the night for Champion, who finished with a game-high 31 points.
In overtime, Julius Player’s basket with 2:13 left gave the Bison (17-8, 7-4) an 88-86 lead.
That was the high-water mark for the visitors. Both teams were in the double-bonus free throw situation by then, and three foul shots from Marcelle Jackson and one from Pat Edmonds provided the Cardinals with the lead for good.
The GSCC press defense took it from there, forcing turnovers on the final two Bison possessions.
After Tevin Wise’s free throw with 11.3 seconds left made it 91-88, Jacob Gibson tracked down a loose ball and was fouled. He sank both opportunities with 2.5 on the clock, effectively sealing the win.
“I was really pleased with the way we played in overtime,” said GSCC head coach Todd Ginn. “We kept playing and didn’t get down. We knew that [Southern Union] was very good at the guard position. We challenged our guys to play with them, and they still hit 3’s, so you have to give them credit. But I think that our press really hurt them in the second half.”
Jackson finished with a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds while adding four steals and three blocks.
Former Etowah High standout Darius Bush also had a double-dip of 22 points and 10 boards while going a perfect 6-for-6 at the foul line.
Gadsden City High graduate Tevin Wise and Paul Johnson each scored 12 points.
Christian Hutchinson added 11 points and five rebounds, while Gibson contributed 10 points and three steals.
Gadsden State built an early 18-8 lead in the first half before a 16-4 run made it 24-22 in favor of the Bison.
The Cardinals recovered to go ahead 37-31 with 2:23 left, but Champion sank a 3-pointer just before the half ended to put Southern Union up 41-40.
Neither team led by double digits during the second half, with the largest GSCC cushion being seven points at 60-53 at 12:30.
Gibson’s 3-pointer with 53 seconds to go put Gadsden State on top by four, and Edmonds’ free throw at 24.3 made it 79-75.
The Bison answered with Loman DeMarkus’ trey with 10 seconds left to close within a point before Wise knocked down a pair of foul shots four seconds later.
But Southern Union broke the press on the following possession and got the ball to Champion, who connected from downtown to force overtime.
Devin Pugh added 20 points for the Bison, followed by Loman with 12.
“From the leadership standpoint, my guys are doing an unbelievable job this year, and they showed that down the stretch tonight,” said Ginn.