BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Alabama A&M men's basketball program came up short in the 2023 SWAC Tournament Semifinal round on Friday afternoon as they fell to No. 8 seed Texas Southern, 74-61, inside of Bartow Arena.
In a quick turnaround from Thursday night's quarterfinal round, the Bulldogs had a slow start on Friday, trailing 6-3 before grabbing a 7-6 lead on a pair of free throws from Olisa Blaise Akonobi.
After the first media timeout, Lorenzo Downey tied the game for the second time in the first six minutes of play at 10-10. Nearly two minutes later, the score was tied again at 12-12 heading into another break at the 11:05 mark.
From there, Texas Southern made a push, outscoring the Bulldogs 7-2 over the next stretch of play to take a 19-14 lead with nine remaining in the half. A&M cut the lead to a possession on two separate occasions before the close of the half with the last being 23-21.
The Tigers pushed their lead back up to seven at the 2:51 mark after a fast break score and foul shot, however the Bulldogs closed the half on a 7-0 run with scores from Garrett Hicks, Jayland Randall, and Messiah Thompson to head into the half tied 28-28.
A&M recovered and got off to a strong start in the second half, gaining a 34-29 lead after two freebees from Downey just under three minutes in. Momentum shifted quickly after the under 16 break, as TSU went on to regain the advantage, using a 13-5 run to lead 42-39 with 11:45 to play.
On the next offensive possession for A&M, Downey pulled them within a point with a layup inside, assisted by Austin Harvell, however the Tigers gained a significant edge going forward, going up 56-49 at the seven-minute mark, before taking the first double figure lead of the game just over a minute later after a three-pointer from PJ Henry, who scored 24 of his 26 points in the second half.
Alabama A&M struggled to score down the stretch, as the Tiger lead swelled to as many as 17 points over the final five minutes of play and finished the game converting at the free throw line to take the 74-61 final.
Henry led the Tigers at the guard spot with his game-high 26 points along with four rebounds in 26 minutes, while Davon Barnes added a 20-point, 10-rebound effort on the night.
The Bulldogs struggled offensively after a hot night on Thursday, finishing the contest with shooting splits of 34.8 (18-for-52) percent from the floor, 26.1 (6-for-23) percent from three and 63.3 (19-for-30) percent from the free throw line.
Downey finished with a team-high 15 points on 5-for-10 shooting, followed by Randall and Thompson who added nine points each.