BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Kentucky State men’s basketball team defeated Claflin University 76-55 in the opening round of the SIAC Basketball Championship Tournament Tuesday at the Bill Harris Arena.
In the first half, Claflin jumped out to take the early lead, going up 12-7 with just under 14 minutes left in the first half. Kentucky State then went on a 20-1 run to take a commanding 27-13 lead with 4:42 left in the half.
In the final seconds of the first period, Claflin guard Brandon Curry missed a contested layup with just a few seconds left. After securing the rebound, KSU’s Ulysses Thomas III quickly pushed the ball to a streaking Darquell Pulliam, who rushed down the floor and got off an off-balance 3-point attempt.
The ball fell through the basket as time expired to send the Thorobreds into the locker room with a 35-25 lead.
In the second half, the Panthers were able to chip away at the Kentucky State advantage, cutting the lead to seven early in the half.
With 8:59 left in the game, Claflin’s Adolph Caldwell, who finished with a game-high 21 points, hit a 3-pointer to cut the KSU lead to 11 at 60-49. From there, the Thorobreds outscored CU 16-6 to close out the game.
Senior forward/center Brandon Darrett anchored the Thorobreds on both ends of the floor, picking up his 10th double-double of the season after finishing with 14 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.
The Thorobreds were paced offensively by sophomore point guard Quentin Henderson, who finished the contest with 11 points, three assists and no turnovers.
KSU forward Darrien Wilkins was a key for the Thorobreds, scoring 14 points, mostly inside, and pulling down eight rebounds, three on the offensive end. Thomas, a junior guard, finished with 11 points.
With starting guard Antonio Sullivan in foul trouble early, Pulliam came off the bench to provide nine points and three assists in 23 minutes.
The Thorobreds hit 46 percent (26 of 57) of their shots from the floor while the Panthers connected on just 39 percent (22 of 56).
Next up for Kentucky State is a quarterfinal matchup Thursday at 7:45 p.m. (CT) against Albany State, which defeated Morehouse 55-54 Tuesday.
The Kentucky State women’s team finished as the No. 2 seed in the West Division and earned a first-round bye.
The Thorobrettes open tournament play at 1 p.m. (CT) Thursday against Clark Atlanta, the No. 3 seed in the East Division.
CAU won its first tournament game Tuesday by forfeit against Lane College.