DALLAS — Titus Stevenson huddled up his Steer teammates together in unison and assured them of victory, with Texas College facing a 10-point deficit and only 4 ﾽ minutes remaining.
The Steers stormed back after Stevenson backed up the talk.
Stevenson secured the come-from-behind win, hitting a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:21 remaining to help TC lock down a 79-76 win over Paul Quinn at a rowdy Tigers’ Den Saturday.
Jamal Robertson, who attended Dallas Skyline, scored a team-high 16 points for the Steers in his homecoming, including a nifty drive down the lane for a 77-74 lead with 31 seconds left. Robertson knocked down two free throws with 15 seconds left to get the lead back to three points.
Paul Quinn’s Tedrick Urune airballed a 3-pointer as time expired, allowing TC to breathe a sigh of relief.
Stevenson’s first half technical turned the game around, with TC up 16-10 at the time after recording 10 of the game’s first 12 points. Paul Quinn used a 13-0 run afterward to lead for 24 consecutive minutes before Stevenson, who played on a state championship team at Beaumont Ozen, made amends.
“Titus is very emotional,” Norfleet said of his 6-6 senior power forward. “He’s used to the winning concept. He pulled them in and told them we’re not about to lose this game, him and Robertson. It’s good to have those guys that understand what you’re trying to do for your program.”
The Tyler duo of Blake Turner (15 points) and Kerry Jones (12 points, 11 points,) played key roles in the win for the Steers, who improved to 19-7 with four games left in the regular season.
The Steers swept the season series from the Tigers (10-14), but not without a fight from Paul Quinn, the inside tandem of Myron Dempsey and Aaron McCuin in particular.
“It was a big win, being it was against one of our rivals,” Norfleet said. “We’re trying to at least be 23-7. We feel like with that record and our resume (three wins over Top 25 teams) we should move up and position ourselves for an at-large bid.”
The Steers made only three field goals over the final 8:10 in the first half, and trailed by seven at the break. TC chased Paul Quinn to continue the second half, getting behind 71-61 with 4:33 left on Jared Mitchell’s putback.
The Steers sped up the pace, first with full-court pressure and with transition opportunities, to score eight straight points on Robertson’s 3-pointer, Stevenson’s three-point play, and a pair of free throws from former Paul Quinn guard Eddren McCain. The deficit remained two points until Stevenson stole a ball on the defensive end. After working the ball around, Stevenson spotted up from the top of the perimeter and drained the triple for a 75-74 advantage.
The Steers benefited from Dempsey and McCuin both fouling out after they combined for 20 points and 13 rebounds in the second half alone.
“We had to put pressure on them and we had to establish ourselves (inside) in the second half,” said Norfleet, whose team returns to action next Saturday at Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins. “Their big men were killing us. Those two make them go. We went to Jones and got a couple fouls on McCuin and that made them timid. From that point on we got to the free throw line and knocked them down in the clutch, which we missed the other night (in a 105-97 overtime loss at LSU-Shreveport).”