March Madness

Gibbs, Texas Southern fall in NCAA First Four

Former East Coweta basketball player Madarious Gibbs trip to the 2014 NCAA Tournament was short lived.

Playing along side his Texas Southern teammates, the Tigers fell 81-69 to Cal Poly in the first Four, play-in game to begin this year’s NCAA tournament in Dayton.

After being on probation and missing out on a chance to go to the NCAA tournament a year ago, Gibbs and the Tigers redeemed themselves this season by getting an automatic bid after winning the SWAC tournament last weekend

Cal Poly earned its way into the tournament after winning the Big West Conference crown despite a losing record.

Gibbs played 31 minutes in Wednesday’s contest for Texas Southern, scoring six points after hitting two shots from the field and converting two free throws.

Chris Eversley scored 19 points to help Cal Poly.

Now the team with the worst record in the tournament (14-19) moves on to face the one with the best -- top-seeded Wichita State (34-0) -- in the second round in St. Louis on Friday.

Dave Nwaba added 17 points and Brian Bennett -- who was a perfect 5 for 5 from the field -- had 10 for the Mustangs. Held back by injuries all season, a team that shot 41 percent from the field for the season saved its best for last by making 57 percent on the biggest stage. The 81 points was its second most in a game all year.

Despite the loss, Aaric Murray turned in a dominating performance for the Tigers with 38 points to lead all scorers. Murray hit 14 shots from the field, including 3 of 5 from 3-point territory.

He was also 7 of 7 from the free throw line.

Cal Poly dominated most of the first half to build a 12-point lead at the break and never let it go.

The Tigers, who had won nine in a row, cut the lead to 73-66 with 2:16 left, but the Mustangs hit 8 of 10 fouls shots over the last 1:42 to seal the deal.

The Mustangs pulled away midway through the opening half.

Cal Poly took the lead for good on Bennett's slashing move to the hoop. After a Texas Southern miss, Bennett scored again on a 14-foot jumper. Those two baskets keyed a 16-7 burst for a 32-24 lead.

"They took advantage of our mistakes defensively," said Texas Southern coach Mike Davis, who had also led Indiana and UAB into the tournament. "They shared the ball well. They had one turnover in the first half. It's hard to beat a basketball team that has one turnover."

"They didn't let me catch the ball one on one; they didn't let me go against their big one on one," he said. "And they just played some good defense."

The Mustangs led the Big West in scoring defense, allowing 63.4 points a game while finishing last in scoring (63.2). Conversely, the Tigers, now 0-5 in NCAA play, led the SWAC in scoring (76.2 points) but was near the bottom in defense (73.7).

Now that his team is healthy and on a roll, having won four straight, Callero wasn't making plans to head home early.

"We got letters and texts from everyone saying, 'Hey, congrats that you made it,' " he said. "It's great to make it, but better to do something when you get there and get a victory."





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