The Statesmen battled hard and pulled out a hard fought 59-56 win over the Union University Bulldogs. Delta State improved to 8-11 with a 4-7 mark in the GSC, while fell to 4-16 with a 2-10 mark in the conference.
“I thought our guys kept grinding through the entire game,” Statesmen head coach Jim Boone said. “That’s kind of been our mantra, just keep doing what you do and good things will happen for us. I thought our guys did a great job of sticking to what we do, and they just found a way to win a game.”
The Statesmen started their run late in the second half. After Union’s Corieon Pearson hit a lay-up to put his team up 46-43 with 7:50 left in the game, the Statesmen started to buckle down on defense. Cornell Knight stepped his game up as he hit two free throws and a jump shot to give the Statesmen a 47-46 lead with 6:38 left in the game. DSU added to the lead as Jack Madgen hit two free throws to make the score 49-46 with 5:50 left in the game.
Union was able to tie the game at 51-51 with under two minutes remaining, but the Statesmen battled back again as Lloyd Hickinson and Madgen each nailed key baskets to put the Statesmen up 55-51 with 40 seconds left in the game.
The lead was big enough for the Statesmen as they were able to hold on for the victory. DSU’s defense ended up surrendering just 10 points over the last seven minutes and 50 seconds of the game.
Knight led the Statesmen with 18 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals, followed by Madgen with 16 points, four rebounds and four assists. Knight and Madgen’s performances were particularly huge considering the fact that the team’s leading scorer Terry Leake Jr., who is averaging 17.7 points per game, went just 3-of-8 from the floor with eight points.
Boone has been pleased with the way the players pick each other up.
“We’ve had some guys really grow up as the season has progressed,” Boone said. “Jack Madgen, who is a freshman for us, has responded real well, and he’s not playing like a freshman.
“I think Cornell Knight and Mike Weems, two of our other perimeter players, have continued to improve, and we’re getting great inside play defensively and on the glass from Lloyd Hickinson and Ryan Smith.”
Pedro Faller led the Bulldogs with 12 points, followed by AJ Roberts with 10 points.
DSU will be back in action on Saturday when the team travels to Florence, Ala. to take one the University of North Alabama in a key GSC showdown at 3 p.m.