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Top-seeded Senators upset in Region VII quarterfinals

Top-seeded Senators upset in Region VII quarterfinals

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Trailing by 21 as the clock ticked under 10 minutes left, top-seeded Walters State needed a huge rally if its season would continue.


The Senators got a big rally, but it wasn't enough, as eighth-seeded Roane State avenged two losses this season to WSCC with an 82-78 victory to advance on in the TCCAA/NJCAA Region VII Tournament inside Cleveland State's L. Quentin Lane Gymnasium.


With the win, the Raiders improve to 13-19 on the year and move on to Monday's semifinals against fourth-seeded Dyersburg State or fifth-seeded Chattanooga State with tipoff set for 6 p.m.


The loss brought an end to the season for the Senators with a 23-8 record after winning the regular season championship with a 14-4 league record.


Walters State scored the first four points, with Miles Thomas and Kajuan Hale both scoring in the first 58 seconds, and the Senators led until Roane State's Dillon Fountain began raining in triples for the Raiders.


Fountain hit four treys in the opening 20 minutes, but it was one from Lutelson Jerome eight minutes into the game that put Roane State on top, and DeMierre Black followed with a bucket inside to spark a 13-5 run to make it a 27-19 Raider lead. 


The Senators cut the margin to 29-26 on a bucket in the paint by Westin Reynolds, but buckets from James Jordan sandwiched around a 3-point play from Kenden Reaves and a basket by Black, made it a double-digit lead. Fountain added a late 3-pinter before Austin Brooks closed the scoring in the first half with a putback layup to put Roane State up 43-30 at halftime.


The Senators had one of their worst shooting halves of the season in the opening frame, making just 10 of 39 shots for a 25.6 percent clip, which included misfiring on all 12 attempts from long range. WSCC was 10 of 16 at the free throw line in the half. Thomas and Paris Taylor had eight points each in the half, with Thomas adding seven rebounds.


Roane State shot 51.4 percent (18 of 35) from the field in the half, making 6 of 17 from 3-point distance, as they made 66.7 percent (12 of 18) from inside the arc. Fountain's 12 points led all scorers in the half, with Jordan adding nine points of the Raiders.


Roane State continued to build on the lead early in the second half, and by the time the half reached its midway point, the Raiders led 69-48 as Black and Jordan began to heat up.


Walters State did not roll over however, as a dunk by Miles Thomas and a technical foul whistled against the Roane State coaching staff put a charge in the Senators. Thomas gunned in a triple to cut the lead to 10, and a 3-point play two trips later made it a single-digit margin for the first time since the 3:00 mark of the first half.


It appeared the Raiders would put the game away, as Black scored to make it a 79-70 lead with 2:01 remaining, but Thomas hit 3-pointers on back-to-back trips to slice the margin to 79-76 with 1:00 left.


Thomas got off another triple with 10 seconds left, but it went in and out and Roane State corralled the rebound. Jordan made a free throw to make it a 4-point lead before Thomas scored with 2.1 left to make it 80-78. Black made two free tosses with 1.0 on the clock to clinch the victory.


Roane State shot 43.3 percent (26 of 60) from the field in the win, including 10 of 31 from long range, while making 20 of 25 at the free throw line. Jordan led the Raiders with 23 points, while Black added 21 points and nine rebounds and Fountain finished with 17.


WSCC shot 32 percent (24 of 75) in the contest, making only 4 of 21 from deep, while knocking down 26 of 37 free throws. The Senators outrebounded Roane State, 51-33, including 20-3 on the offensive glass.


Thomas concluded his Walters State career with 31 points and 11 rebounds in the contest, while Khiry Shelton had 16 points and six boards and Paris Taylor added 10 points in the loss. Kajuan Hale finished with eight points, six rebounds and six assists.