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Tallahassee Community College wins opening game at 2023 NJCAA men’s basketball national tournament

Eagles 78, Trojans 75
TCC Tallahassee Eagles logo
Posted at 11:49 AM, Mar 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-21 12:02:23-04

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (WTXL) — The Tallahassee Community College men’s basketball team defeated Trinidad State College 78-75 in the first round game of the NJCAA Division I men’s basketball national tournament Monday night at Hutchinson Sports Arena.

The Eagles had to rally late in the second half to secure the win against the Trojans of Trinidad, Colorado.

With one minute, six seconds remaining in the game, Trinidad State held a 75-70 lead.

TCC went on a final surge as Malachi Davis made a 3-pointer to trim the deficit to 75-73 with 59 seconds remaining.

Trinidad State (23-8) then missed a basket and committed a foul. Davis stepped to the free-throw line and made the first free throw, but missed the second one.

After the second missed free throw, Davis got the rebound and scored a basket to give TCC a 76-75 lead with 18 seconds remaining.

Davis was fouled on the play and completed the old fashion 3-point play by converting the free throw to give TCC a 77-75 lead.

Trinidad State missed a 3-pointer with six seconds remaining and TCC’s Isaiah Cathey corralled the rebound and was fouled with four seconds remaining.

Cathey made one of two free throws to give the Eagles, the No. 12 seed in the tournament, a 3-point lead with four seconds left in the game.

The Trojans were unable to get a shot off at the end of the game as the Eagles secured the win to advance to the second round.

I’m extremely happy and proud of those guys,” said head coach Rick Cabrera in a statement provided by TCC athletics after the win. “Being down 10 at halftime, I put some pressure on them in the locker room. To their credit they upped their ante on the defensive end.”

Trinidad State shot 7-for-13 from three in the first half, giving them a 44-34 lead going into the break. The Eagles held them to just two made threes in the second half, and only 11 total made field goals.

The win was Cabrera’s 150th of his head coaching career.

“That’s not coaching,” said Cabrera when asked about the hectic final seconds, “that’s just strictly toughness.”

TCC (29-5) was led by Davis who scored 31 points with four rebounds, three assists and two steals.

“I’ve said it from day one,” said Cabrera, “in my opinion he’s the most talented guard in the country and he proved that. He’s allowed to make mistakes, even though they drive me crazy, but he’s allowed to make mistakes because I know he’ll make up for them.”

Ja'Quavian Florence followed with 17 points, seven rebounds and three steals off the bench, while Tom Mark posted 16 points, four rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots in the win.

Dejour Reaves scored a game-high 28 points with six rebounds for Trinidad State, the No. 21 seed in the tournament.

Up next, TCC plays No. 5 seed Salt Lake Community College in a second-round game Wednesday with a 3 p.m. eastern time game start.