Feb. 6, 2012
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - Alphonza Kee has never wavered. He believes he has a good basketball team. And nothing has diminished his outlook on the potential of his club.
Not even seven straight losses.
On Monday night, without his top scorer and defender, Kee still felt like his Fayetteville State Broncos could compete with the CIAA Southern Division's elite, including Johnson C. Smith. And even down by three with just over 6 minutes to go, his faith never faltered.
That belief was rewarded by Andre Best, Tyrrel Tate and a 15-0 run, as Best scored a career-high 19 points and Tate scored seven of his 19 points in the last 5 minutes to push the Broncos to an emphatic 71-57 victory over the Golden Bulls at Felton J. Capel Arena.
"The want and the need to win was the same," said Kee, who was without Tim Plummer for the second straight game. "This win shows our program's potential."
Fayetteville State (5-13, 3-7, 1-4) won its first Southern Division game of the season, building a 12-point at the half and taking advantage of serious foul trouble for the reigning CIAA Player of the Year and the league's leading scorer, Trevin Parks.
Parks was held to a season-low 11 points, 13 below his average. But for a moment, it appeared as he was heating up, burying two 3-pointers to spark a 9-3 run and give the Golden Bulls (10-11, 5-6, 3-2) a 55-52 lead with 6:17 to go.
But hampered with four fouls, Parks was a liability on defense, and Best took advantage. Best drove to the basket almost at will, going for 15 points in the second half. His runner with 5:11 left gave the lead back to Fayetteville State, and seven straight points from Tate - including a huge 3 from the wing - allowed the Broncos to build a 67-55 lead with 1:01 remaining.
Kee gushed about the Broncos' two key players.
"Best is a guy we've all had the opportunity to watch grow," said Kee. "He's had his ups and downs, but he's worked hard to figure out the best ways he can contribute to the team.
"Tate is the future of this program, and he's always had this tremendous will to win. He's going to be a very good player. He showed that tonight."
Fayetteville State controlled the pace in the first half, using a 14-2 run to build a 16-7 lead in the opening minutes. The Broncos went through two scoring droughts in the opening period, but their defense salvaged the lead. With the Golden Bulls shooting just 28 percent from the field in the first half, the Broncos closed the period on an 11-2 run for a 33-21 lead.
Johnson C. Smith came back in the second half, though, taking a 41-40 lead on a 13-2 run with 10:51 to go.
But Tate answered with a three-point play, foreshadowing his late-game heroics.
No other Golden Bulls' player scored more than eight points.
Fayetteville State travels to play Virginia State on Thursday.