The No. 3 seeded Statesmen lost to a talented No. 8 seed Tuskegee University 80-59 Tuesday evening.
DSU ran into a red-hot Golden Tiger team, which forced 17 total turnovers, resulting in 21 points for TU – which ending up being the final margin of victory. Tuskegee shot 50 percent overall to Delta's 40. The visitors also hit 46 percent of shots from beyond the arc, while the Statesmen were held to 25 percent. At the free-throw line, Tuskegee went 14-of-17 and DSU shot 17-of-23.
Up until the 4:57 mark of the first half, the two teams traded bucket after bucket, with neither squad getting more than a five-point lead. TU's Charles Savoy hit a jumper with just under five minutes to go that put the Golden Tigers up seven. Elliot Dean followed that with three of his 15 points on a long range shot, putting Tuskegee up 36-26 with 3:30 on the clock in the opening half.
The Statesmen brought that lead back down to four with layups from Mike Washington and Devin Schmidt, followed by two shots at the line by Cornel Knight, but TU responded with a score in the paint and the Golden Tigers stole all the momentum as the buzzer was sounding for halftime and the lights behind the backboard flashed. Javier McKinney hit his only 3-pointer of the night with basically no time on the clock, and heading into the locker room, Tuskegee led Delta State 41-32.
In the first half, Willie Readus led DSU with 11 points and nine rebounds. Devin Schmidt added seven points and five rebounds. On the glass, the Statesmen outrebounded the Golden Tigers 21-15 and hit eight shots at the charity stripe to TU's two. Total shooting in the opening half, Tuskegee hit 17 shots and Delta scored on 11. The Statesmen turned the ball over 11 times while only forcing five turnovers from the visitors. TU scored 17 points off those mistakes to DSU's seven. The Golden Tigers also scored 14 fast break points and Tuskegee's bench contributed 14 points while Delta's had none.
In the second half, the Golden Tigers scored on their first couple of possessions, but Delta State kept it in check until about the 12:35 mark when TU's McKinney scored two more of his 14 points and put his team up by 20 points, 56-36. From there, the Statesmen struggled to contain their opponent, who shot 52 percent in the second half. In the first seven minutes of the second half, DSU only scored four points.
Shooting well and running the floor, Tuskegee got out to a 30-point lead a few times as the game finished up. The Statesmen brought that down a bit and the No. 8 seed Golden Tigers upset No. 3 seed Delta State by a final score of 80-59.
Overall, the two teams matched up pretty well in the paint. However, on fast break points, TU picked up 24 total, while Delta only scored six. The Golden Tigers' bench was a huge help, contributing 29 points, most of those coming from McKinney and All-Tournament player Richard Dixon.
Four Statesmen finished in double figures in the final game of the year. Readus led the way, completing his 19th double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds. Schmidt, Washington and Knight all totaled 11 points. Schmidt also had five assists.
Delta shot 20-of-50 from the field, 2-of-8 from 3-point range and 17-of-23 at the foul line. The Statesmen pulled down 34 rebounds.
The DSU men finish out the 2013-2014 season with a 26-7 record, a Gulf South Conference regular season championship and a berth into the Sweet 16 – the first time the Statesmen played in the NCAA Tournament since the 2008-2009 season.
Delta will say goodbye to seniors Willie Readus, Mike Washington, Cornel Knight, Michael Weems, Bobby Wallace and Eric White.
The 2014 Men's Basketball South Region All-Tournament Team is headlined by Most Outstanding Player Kevin May from Tuskegee, Willie Readus from Delta State, Richard Dixon for the Golden Tigers, Jarrel Harris from Saint Leo University and Kevin Capers from host Florida Southern College.
Tuskegee advances to the Elite Eight in Evansville, Ind.