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Eagles pull away from ‘Dores, into tie for first in PC

Posted at 3:04 PM, Feb 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-06 15:04:50-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (February 6, 2020) – NJCAA No. 15/Region 8 No. 3 Tallahassee Community College rode a dominating offensive effort to knock off No. 12/No. 2 Gulf Coast State College, 89-71, on Wednesday evening.

By winning, Tallahassee (22-4) pulled even with Gulf Coast State (19-5) in the Panhandle Conference standings. Both teams are 6-2 with four games remaining. Perhaps, more importantly, the victory created a two-game lead over Chipola College and Pensacola State College, who are tied for third at 4-4. Only the top two teams will advance to next month's NJCAA District/FCSAA State Tournament in Niceville, Fla., and be eligible for at-large consideration to the NJCAA Tournament.

Tallahassee and Gulf Coast State played a thriller on January 18, a game won by the Commodores, 75-73. Although Gulf Coast State never led, Wednesday's showdown was unfolding with just as much drama until the game's final 10 minutes.

Leading 58-56, Tallahassee scored five straight points before a play on the defensive end kicked things into high gear. Daivon Stephens deflected a pass into the backcourt, where he outran the 'Dores Devonta Cook and outmuscled him to get the lay-in and the foul. Stephens converted the three-point play and scored again on the Eagles' next possession to finish a 10-0 run for a 68-56 lead with 8:16 left in the game.

After Gulf Coast State scored the next two baskets to get within eight (68-60), the Eagles went on a 16-4 run to blow the game wide open. DeAndre Gholston's free throw gave Tallahassee an 84-64 lead with 1:50 remaining.

Tallahassee made 10 of its final 12 shots to finish 16-of-24 (66.7 percent) overall in the second half and 6-of-11 from three. The Eagles shot 58.0 percent (29-of-50) for the game.

Eric Hester, who hit 6-of-9 three-pointers, led the Eagles with 22 points. El Ellis had 17 points and 10 assists. Gholston finished with 12 points, and Rifen Miguel had 11.

Kailex Stephens pulled down 11 rebounds.

The Eagles had a 10-0 run in the first half that resulted in a 25-13 lead at the 9:30 mark, but the Commodores had an answer.

Travon Mayo hit a pair of threes during a 16-6 surge that brought Gulf Coast State with two points, 31-29, with 4:06 left in the half.

Tallahassee led 41-38 at the intermission.

The Eagles will host Chipola in another critical game on Saturday. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m.