MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — Walters State might not have finished the way it wanted, but Paris Taylor certainly finished.
Taylor tipped a 3-point attempt by Miles Thomas into the net at the final buzzer, giving Walters State an exciting 78-76 win over Columbia State at 'Z' Buda Gymnasium on Friday night.
The score put Taylor in double figures as he totaled 10 points on the evening along with 7 rebounds, none bigger than his final play.
"Big rebound and big stick back," Walters State coach Bill Carlyle said. "They do a really good job of pressing you. I thought we took care of it pretty good for the most part. We worked hard on getting ready for their trap and for the most part, we did good."
Thomas dropped 17 points and finished just 1 rebound or 2 assists shy of a double-double himself, with Deontae Davis scoring 11 points for the Senators.
Lorenzo McGhee, Columbia State's leading scorer averaging 14.8 points per game, quickly gave the Chargers (9-4, 2-3) a spark with back-to-back 3s following a Jeremiah Alexander triple to cap a 9-0 run which cut Walters State's lead to 70-62.
The spurt eventually became 23-6 when Alexander buried a runner to tie the game at 76 with 27 seconds on the clock, setting up the game winner.
"We were very fortunate to get out of that, but any win in the conference is good," Carlyle said.
McGhee led Columbia State with 23 points while Alexander joined him in double figures with 16.
Things appeared to be going Walters State's way when Hale converted a three-point play and a 3-pointer sandwiched around a Davis layup and a slam by Taylor to help the Senators build a 70-53 cushion.
But it didn't last.
McGhee had accumulated 10 by halftime including 3-pointers on consecutive possessions as part of an 8-0 Chargers run which slice the deficit to 36-32.
But Walters State countered with Thomas assisting Demontay Dixon on a dunk before following Hale's 3-pointer with a one-handed putback slam to give the Senators their biggest lead of the first half at 47-34. Thomas recorded 13 of his points in the first half.
Jaden Stanley-Williams hit a floater with 3 seconds on the clock to pull Columbia State within 47-38 at the break.
A triple by Davis and a pair of buckets in the paint by Taylor helped the Senators on a 13-4 spurt for their first cushion at 31-19.
Walters State will be back in action on Saturday with a 2 p.m. start against TCCAA rival Jackson State at 'Z' Buda Gymnasium.