The Bulldogs bothered by injuries still keep searching for their first conference win of the season, after dropping a tough 64-49 defeat to Savannah State Saturday at Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center.
South Carolina State falls to 4-15 overall, 0-6 in the MEAC, while Savannah State improves to 11-9 overall, 5-1 in the league. Junior Matthew Hezekiah led the Bulldogs with a team-high 13 points, seven rebounds , and four blocks, while freshman forward Darryl Palmer added 10 in the losing effort.
"We aren't hitting the shots we needed to stay in the game," said head coach Tim Carter. "It's very frustrating when you can't get the production you need either mentally or physically."
Senior guard Khalif Toombs entered the game needing only five points to reach the 1,000th point scoring club. Toombs finished with nine points, four assists, and three steals on the night.
Carter stated, "I feel bad for Khalif and our team but most of all him. This guy is a warrior with a heart and plays hard every night and for him not to have a good senior season is tough."
Savannah State jumped out to a quick 11-point lead, 22-11, off a jumper by junior guard Marcus Hutchins at the 10:57 mark. Hezekiah's driving layup with 2:47 remaining before the half, cut the lead to eight, 20-28.
The Tigers closed out the half with a 32-21 lead over the Bulldogs. Senior guard Preston Blackman the Columbia, SC native led all scorers with 12 points, while junior forward Rashad Hassan added 10 at the half.
Then second-half was all SSU, with the Tigers building a 13-point lead on a tip-in by Hutchins at the 11:59 mark. Blackman's 3-pointer at the 6:36 mark keep the Tigers rolling, 53-37, followed by a floating layup to give Savannah State their biggest lead of the night 20, 62-42 with 2:25 left in regulation.
A tip-in by sophomore guard Devin Joint followed by a jumper by Palmer cut the lead to 15, but that was it as SSU held on to an 64-49 victory over SC State. Blackman finished with a game-high 20 points for the Tigers, while Hassan closed out the night with 17.
"Nothing left to say but we have to keep pounding and get better," stated Carter. "There is no giving up on this team we are at the point of no return and we will turn things around."
With the loss, that sends South Carolina State to 22 consecutive losses in the MEAC and 12th straight defeat this season.
South Carolina State will return to action on Wednesday when they host the visiting Pirates of Hampton University in a pivotal Mid-Eastern Athletic showdown. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m.