LAKELAND, Fla. -- North Alabama could not overcome a 16-point second-half deficit in a 93-87 loss to Tuskegee on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Division II tournament.
Tuskegee (20-11) shot 51 percent from the floor, including several baskets at point blank range. The Golden Tigers led 50-36 at the half and held off a late UNA surge over the final 20 minutes of play.
The Lions held an early 11-8 lead before Tuskegee went on a 20-9 run to take control. UNA never regained the lead.
Trailing 56-40 early in the second half, North Alabama was able to close the gap to single digits. A basket by Rashaun Claiborne cut the lead to 58-50 with 15:37 remaining. After the Golden Tigers regained an 11-point advantage, UNA went on a 7-0 run to pull to within four.
The Tuskegee lead never got above eight the rest of the way, but North Alabama could never get closer than three. After UNA closed the gap to four on two different occasions, a late Tuskegee surge pushed the lead back to 84-76 with 2:55 remaining.
The Lions used a 7-2 spurt to make the score 86-83 at the 1:10 mark and got a steal by Tyler Pritchard in the final minute of play. The defensive play led to a 3-point attempt by Marquel Darrington. The shot, however, rattled in and out before Tuskegee grabbed the defensive rebound.
After the Golden Tigers made only one of two free throws, a runner by Claiborne again rattled out and fell to Tuskegee’s possession. Kevin May made both free throws at the other end and the Lions would get no closer than six the rest of way.
Senior Wes Long turned in eight points to go above 1,000 points for his career. He went over the mark with a 3-point basket at the 16:06 mark in the second half and finishes his career with 1,002 points, including 247 3-pointers.
“I’d trade all 1,000 points for a win tonight,” said Long. “It was just tough for us to match Tuskegee’s fire. We just didn’t have enough intensity.”
Six players reached double figures in scoring for the Golden Tigers. Richard Dixon turned in a game-high 22 points for Tuskegee.