Courtesy KSU Athletics
In a fierce return matchup between bordering rivals, Kentucky State University men’s basketball dropped the second game of the season series in overtime 97-95 on Saturday night at the Exum Center.

The Thorobreds (7-17, 6-11) fell short for the fifth time in six games as they continue to battle with Spring Hill College and Lemoyne Owen College for the No. 3 seed in the west division heading into Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference postseason tournament. The Marauders (11-14, 9-8) still sit firmly in the No. 2 position as they battle to overtake No. 1 seeded Lane College with just two games remaining on the regular season schedule. The season sweep by CSU marked the first time the Marauders pulled off such a feat since the 2013-14 campaign.

The first half iron proved to be unfriendly for the hosting green and gold in the first 16 minutes of action scoring just 20 points, but following the under four minute media timeout, KSU came alive. Capped off by a three-point basket by junior guard Ditalion Battle in the closing seconds, the Thorobreds finished out the final four minutes on a 12-0 run to take a 32-31 lead heading into halftime.

The second half belonged to the Thorobred guard tandem of senior Dorian Jordan and Ray Croon as they combined for 31 points in 20 minutes. After a 71-71 tie with just over four minutes to play, KSU took the lead and led by as much as eight at 81-73. CSU quickly answered, outscoring KSU 11-3 in the final two minutes to force an extra five minutes of action.

The Thorobreds had their chances in the extra period as the Marauders missed four free throws in the final 25 seconds, giving the home squad extra life. As the clock ticked away and KSU trailing 95-92, Jordan pulled up from 30-feet out in the right wing to drain a game-tying three-point bucket with eight seconds remaining. Following a CSU timeout, Charles Ruise drove the length of the floor, sinking a seven-foot floater in the paint for a 97-95 lead with just over a second left to play. KSU had one last heave that fell short and went wide left for the eventual final.

Three Thorobreds finished with double-doubles as Jordan concluded with a team-high 23 points and a team-high 10 assists, for his fifth double-double of the year. Croon followed with 22 points of his own and 10 rebounds while senior forward Michael Stevenson picked up 10 points and 12 rebounds, each collecting their third double-doubles of the season.

As a team CSU controlled the boards, providing the upper hand throughout the night. The Marauders outrebounded the Thorobreds by 25, 65-40, including 27 offensive rebounds, accounting for 35 second-chance points.

Next up for KSU will be its final road trip of the season before SIAC postseason tournament. The Thorobreds will travel south for matchups against Miles College on Feb. 17 and Tuskegee University on Feb. 19.

by Eric Mathews

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