MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — Walters State is becoming accustomed to offensive surges in the second half of games, and Saturday was another case of that for the Senators on Homecoming.
Walters State scored 55 points in the final 20 minutes of its Tennessee Community College Athletic Association opener against Roane State inside 'Z' Buda Gymnasium and Assembly Hall, as the Senators rallied from an early 10-0 hole and found a way to grind out an 85-77 victory over the Raiders.
With the win, Walters State improves to 5-2 overall and 1-0 in TCCAA action, as they now own a 3-1 record at home this season.
The loss kept the Raiders winless, as they fell to 0-5 overall and 0-1 in league play.
The first half, and particularly the opening five minutes, were forgettable for the Senators, as Roane State opened the game on a 10-0 run and led 13-3 before Walters State got its first made shot from the field by Miles Thomas with 15:06 left in the half.
The Raiders led the entire first half, with the Senators closing within a point at 19-18 with 9:45 left in the frame, but Walters State never pulled even or took a lead in the first 20 minutes. When the halftime buzzer sounded, the visitors took a 34-30 lead into the intermission.
Roane State shot 37.5 percent (12 of 32) from the field in the first half, including just 17.6 percent (3 of 17) from long range. The Raiders did connect on 7 of 8 free throws in the half, and they were led by DeMierre Black with 19 points and 7 rebounds in the opening stanza.
Walters State shot just 25 percent (8 of 32) from the floor in the half, easily its worst shooting performance in a half all season, and it misfired on all six attempts from long distance. The Senators were 14 of 20 at the charity stripe, keeping them within striking distance. Thomas had 10 points and 8 rebounds in the half, while Paris Taylor added 7 points and 4 boards in the frame.
The Senators claimed their first lead of the game on a layup by Demontay Dixon with 17:24 left to make it 39-37 in favor of Walters State, and the game was tied at 49 as the clock ticked towards the 11-minute mark left in the game.
The game was still tied at 62 as the clock moved under six minutes left, but a dunk by Thomas sparked a 14-2 run for the Senators to give them a 76-64 lead with 3:07 left when Kajuan Hale made a layup at the end of the spurt. The Raiders cut it to 78-73 on a triple from Kavan Hill and then two free throws from Black with 1:57 left in the game, but the visitors got no closer than that.
Walters State shot 43.1 percent (28 of 65) from the field in the win, including 60.6 percent (20 of 33) in the second half, making 1 of 9 from long range and 28 of 38 at the free throw line. Thomas flirted with a triple-double, scoring 22 points, pulling down 13 rebounds and dishing out 7 assists in the contest, while Dixon added 17 points and 9 rebounds, Taylor has 16 points and 6 boards, and Hale added 10 points and 5 assists in the victory.
Roane State shot 41.3 percent (26 of 63) from the floor, making 8 of 32 from beyond the 3-point arc and 17 of 20 at the charity stripe. Black tallied 33 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Raiders in both categories, while Lutelson Jerome added 12 points in the loss.
The Senators will be back in action right after Thanksgiving when they participate in the Hampton Inn Thanksgiving Bash at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Alabama. WSCC will take on North American University on Friday at 5 p.m. before facing Coastal Alabama-East on Saturday.