For the first time this season, the Kentucky State University Thorobreds have a winning streak going.
KSU raced out to an early lead before holding off Morehouse College for an 89-79 win in Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference action Thursday night at the Exum Center.
The Thorobreds (4-8, 3-4) were coming off a 22-point win at Paine College Tuesday night.
“That was one of the things on the board today was have our first two-game winning streak of the year,” said KSU coach Antwain Banks, whose team opened a four-game homestand. “We’re getting better.”
“We’re starting to click on all cylinders. We’re starting to buy in.”
Seniors Antonio Sullivan and Brandon Darrett paved the way for the Thorobreds. Sullivan, who tore his Achilles last season and hasn’t played in two years, hit four 3-pointers on his way to 22 points and Darrett finished with 11 points, 15 rebounds, four blocks and four steals.
“Brandon is finally starting to understand that he is probably the best big in the conference,” Banks said. “My main thing with Brandon is just wanting him to be more aggressive, be more demanding.
“As far as Antonio, he’s getting better each and every game. He’s getting his confidence, he’s getting his basketball awareness now. But one of the things he can do, that boy can flat-out shoot it.”
Junior Darrien Wilkins had 17 points off the bench and sophomore Quentin Henderson added 15 points for KSU, which shot 54.2 percent for the game.
“I think we’re really starting to peak and starting to see that once we come together and we all buy in on the defensive end and we don’t care who gets success on the offensive end, this team could be pretty scary,” Banks said.
Senior Darrius Williams, who came in averaging 24 points a game, had 32 points and seven rebounds for the Maroon Tigers (5-8, 2-4). Junior Austin Anderson added 24 points and senior Joshua Simmons finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.
KSU opened up a 10-3 lead early in the game and used a 19-8 run to take a 16-point lead with four minutes left in the first half. Senior Troy Adams hit back-to-back 3s and Sullivan hit another to cap the run.
The lead was 16 at the half after Sullivan made four free throws with 0.4 seconds left on the clock. He was fouled shooting a 3 and then was awarded two free throws after a technical foul was called on the Morehouse coach.
KSU upped its margin to 22 midway through the second half after consecutive buckets from Wilkins made it 71-49. But then the Maroon Tigers made a push.
With a 15-3 run, Morehouse cut the lead to 74-64 with six minutes left and then made it an eight-point game after Anderson made a 3. But that’s as close as it would get as KSU made just enough free throws down the stretch to keep Morehouse at bay.
“I’m scared when we’re at the line because I really don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Banks, whose team made 7 of 10 from the line in the final two minutes but finished 16 of 25 overall. “We’ve lost numerous games like that. Hopefully we can be up just enough at the end of the game where if we do miss some it doesn’t hurt us.”
KSU hosts SIAC West Division leader Tuskegee University Saturday at 3 p.m. in a Military Appreciation game. Any current or former members of the military will get in free with a military I.D. or by wearing an article of clothing with a military symbol on it.
“We just want to show appreciation. We just want them to come out, enjoy the game of basketball,” said Banks, whose team will wear special military fatigue jerseys. “It’s one of those things: ‘Thank you for all that you have done, for all that you’re doing.’ Those guys don’t get a lot of credit for what they’re doing.”
MOREHOUSE COLLEGE (79) — Darrius Williams 32, Austin Anderson 24, Michael Scott 1, Robert Askew 9, Joshua Simmons 13.
KENTUCKY ST. (89) — Ulysses Thomas III 9, Tryston Ford 2, Darrien Wilkins 17, Brandon Darrett 11, Johntae Alexander 2, Quentin Henderson 15, John Gaston 2, Antonio Sullivan 22, Troy Adams 9.