For the first time since Dec. 23, 2011, KSU’s men’s basketball team had reason to celebrate. Heading into the week, the Owls had left the basketball court 21 straight times without a victory.
That all changed in the blink of an eye last Monday night, as senior all-conference guard Markeith Cummings hit a mid-range jumper with less than a second to play in overtime to give KSU a 67-65 victory over South Carolina State at the Smith-Hammond- Middleton Memorial Center in Orangeburg, S.C.
The win might have been just as much of a surprise to Owls fans as the shot was to Cummings, who wasn’t even expecting to touch the rock on the final play of the game.
“The shot was supposed to go to Del, but Del passed it back to me and it just went in,” Cummings said of sophomore guard Delbert Love.
Love was handed the controls on the final play of regulation, with a chance to win the game, but his three point attempt was off the mark. The second-half saw six ties and 10 lead changes.
“I thought we came out and played hard,” Cummings said. “We kind of let them back in the game midway through the first half. We just had to come out in the second half and play harder.”
KSU (1-1) opened the game with an 18-5 lead, but only led 32-27 at intermission. The Bulldogs would take the lead at the start of the second period with a 10-1 run to force a more heated contest.
South Carolina State (1-1) outscored the Owls 30-25 in the final period to send the game to overtime, where the Owls finally prevailed. KSU lost to the Bulldogs, 104-98, in double-overtime last year at the Convocation Center.
“I am pleased with the total team effort. I think it started with our starting five, getting us out to a good start early,” KSU head coach Lewis Preston said. “I told them at the end of the day we are going to have to withstand some punches. Even more importantly, we were going to have to face some adversity.”
Cummings finished the game with 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting and 2-of-3 from the charity stripe. Love struggled from the floor, going 4-of-15, but finished second in scoring for the Owls with 16 points.
Senior forward Aaron Anderson had a double- double for the second straight game, going 6-of-9 for 12 points, along with 11 rebounds. Anderson, who had 16 and 12 against Tennessee, was named the Atlantic Sun Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week.
South Carolina State was led by Adama Adams, who was the game’s scoring leader with 26 points, including 8-of-12 from the free throw line.
The Bulldogs also got a double-double out of forward Matthew Hezekiah, who had 14 points and 10 boards.
With the victory, the Owls continue the momentum it built with a strong, 76-67 loss at Tennessee last Friday.
KSU will hit the court again in the Comfort Suites Invitational, hosted by Eastern Kentucky, in Richmond, Ky.
The Owls will be back on the home floor on Wednesday at 7 p.m. against the Georgia Southern Eagles and Saturday at 2:30 p.m. vs. UT-Chattanooga.