By DOUG EADS
Hialeah, Florida – At the end of the day, the Campbellsville-Somerset University Tigers were on the short end of an 88-80 score at Florida National University Sunday afternoon.
However, it really felt like a win.
CU-Somerset rallied from a 17-point deficit against the number one-ranked team in the nation in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) – trimming the margin down to 84-80 with just under a minute left in the contest.
However, the Conquistadors made a couple of plays inside the game’s final minute, notching the 88-80 win over a pesky and determined Tigers basketball team.
“The first words I told our guys when I walked into our locker room after the game was just how proud I was of our guys,” stated CU-Somerset head coach Al Gover.
“They battled, they scrapped, and they fought until the last horn, and that’s all we can ask from these kids,” Gover added. “We can’t ask them to be perfect although sometimes I think that’s what I want them to be.”
The Tigers were not perfect on Sunday afternoon, however arguably, the game against the Conquistadors was one of the best games CU-Somerset has played all season long.
Titus Ransom scored a game-high 22 points for the Tigers, while his teammate – Josiah Williams –scored 18 of his 21 points in the second half.
Early on, it was the Tigers that had the number one-ranked team on the ropes. Behind the hot start out of the gate by Ransom, CU-Somerset was up at the midway point of the first half — 23-16 – but a 14-0 run by Florida National late in the half turned out to be the difference in the game.
The Conquistadors led CU-Somerset 44-33 at halftime, forcing Gover and crew to play from behind for the rest of the contest.
“That run they had at the end of the half really hurt us, and it was the difference in the game,”pointed out coach Gover.
“We preach to the guys all the time that it’s a 40-minute game, and we lost some intensity and focus late in the first half, and it came back to bite us,” stated Gover. “To our kids credit, we fought back there in the second half and cut it down to four points late, so we gave ourselves a chance, and that’s all we can ask.”
It was Josiah Williams that was the catalyst for the Tigers in the second half comeback.
The freshman guard from Louisville Waggener lit up the Conquistadors in the second half from downtown.
Williams knocked down three treys in the second half – a half that saw him tally 18 of his 21 points.
The Tigers shot lights out in the second half during the rally, hitting 19-31 field goal attempts, for 61.3 percent.
With that kind of offensive execution for an entire half – against a team like Florida National –the Tigers proved they can play against anybody. And, that’s a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by the head coach.
“Games like this can only help you down the road, and these are the kind of games that we want to play,” pointed out Gover.
“We want to play teams that can get after you, and we want to play against good competition and we’ve pretty much done that all year,” added the Tigers coach. “It’s got to help us grow and mature. In the long run, it will pay off.”
Keelan Kennedy scored 16 points in the loss for CU-Somerset, while AJ Thomas also hit for double figures for the Tigers will 11 points.
With the loss CU-Somerset fell to 6-17 on the season. The two teams will play again on Monday night at 7 p.m.