Facing a one-loss Jackson State team on Saturday a ‘Z’ Buda Gymnasium, the Walters State men’s basketball team could not get out of their own way.
The Senators turned the ball over 17 times and, every time Walters State cut the lead to one possession, could not stop the Green Jays when it mattered, falling 84-80.
With the loss, Walters State falls to 13-7 on the season and 6-3 in conference play.
“We just didn’t compete,” Walters State coach Bill Carlyle said. “I thought we didn’t play any defense, and our offense was stagnant. It was just a terrible game.
The Senators were led in the game by Kobe Powell, who continues to impress, totaling 30 points. It’s the third straight game that Powell has scored over 20 points, scoring 27 against Southwest Tennessee and 29 on Wednesday night against Roane State. Powell was not in the starting lineup to begin the season, but has worked his way into the starting five with his recent play.
“I thought Kobe shot the ball well tonight,” Carlyle said. “He just needs to work on his turnovers. He turns the ball over way too much still, and that is concerning.”
Demarius Boyd added 20 points for the Senators while Paris Taylor had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
With the win, Jackson State improves to 12-2 on the season. The Green Jays were led in the game by Kevin Hancock, who had 28 points. Zach Lewis added a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
A first half that saw fouls occur more frequently then made baskets, Walters State came out of the gate slowly. The Senators fell behind 7-1, forcing Carlyle to burn an early timeout. However, the timeout settled Walters State, and they eventually tied the game at 14. Powell and Taylor led the charge with five points apiece.
With the momentum, the Senators capitalized. Powell backed his man into the lane and spun to the hoop for a basket, and Boyd made two shots to five Walters State a six-point lead. However, that lead would not hold as the Green Jays fought right back into the game with a 5-0 run.
Powell hit a shot to stop the bleeding for the Senators, and Powell took the game over. After a Boyd hit a layup, Powell completed an old-fashioned three-point play to extend the lead to eight. Powell had 18 points in the first half and could not be stopped as he continually drove to the lane.
But once again, the Senators could not hold the lead. Jackson State clawed back and eventually took a three-point lead into the half as Walters State gave up 40 first half points.
Instead of mounting a comeback coming out of the locker room, Walters State went in reverse and trailed by 10.
“The thing that bothered me the most is that we quit,” Carlyle said. “I thought that when we got down by 10, we just kind of laid down. But the sun will come up tomorrow, and we’ll go from there.”
It was Powell again who kept the Senators in it. He had seven points during a 10-2 run that made it a 51-49 game.
But from that point on, the Green Jays took control, building their lead to 16 at one point late in the game. Walters State could not stop Jackson State, who scored 44 points in the second half.
With two minutes remaining, the Senators made one last push, down 16. Thanks to their full-court pressure, Walters State forced numerous turnovers, cutting the lead to 10 with 1:30 remaining.
Walters State was just about to get the ball back with a chance to cut the lead to single digits, but a foul on a 3-pointer with two on the shot clock all but ended their chance. Thanks to missed free-throws and two Boyd 3-pointers, the lead got down to five with 16 seconds left. But the clock ran out on the comeback.
“I had to threaten them to get them to compete at the end,” Carlyle said. “And finally, we got them going. But we just didn’t play well. We just need our big guys to step up. We hope to get Anthony Jones back this week, and he’s our best rebounder.”
Walters State will be back in action on Wednesday, taking on Chattanooga State at ‘Z’ Buda Gymnasium with a tip-off time of 7:30 p.m.