Florida Southern’s quest for a National Championship ended early at home in a 98-95 loss to Tuskegee, despite a record setting performance by Junior Guard Kevin Capers.
Capers scored the second most points in school history, when he scored 46 points on 17-30 shooting in the loss.
Head Coach Linc Darner said that a big reason for the loss was how well Tuskegee played.
“I give Tuskegee a lot of credit,” Darner said in the press conference after the loss. “They came in and played an unbelievable game. To win in the NCAA Tournament, you have to step up and make plays, and they did.”
The amount of missed free throws ultimately hurt the mocs when it came down to the wire.
“They shoot 64 percent on the year from the foul line, they shoot 81 percent today,” Darner said. “We shoot about 75 percent on the year, we shoot 58 percent today, that was a big difference in the game. They shot the ball unbelievable, but the big thing was the free throws.”
Darner said that the team did not panic when they went into the locker room trailing.
“I always think the first game is the hardest game,” Darner said. “I told the guys when we went in at halftime, I’ve been in eight NCAA tournament games, and I’ve been behind in all eight. I’ve been the number one seed five times. If you can get through the first one, I think it makes it a lot easier.”
Capers, despite scoring 46 points, went 9-17 from the free throw line, and he said that nothing felt different.
“I don’t know. they felt good and they just weren’t going in,” Capers said. “I usually make them.”
Florida Southern will lose three seniors this year, all three of whom have started at some point during the year. The seniors are Lamar McKnight, Garrett Putman and Dominic Lane.
Putman said after in the press conference he would not take a minute back from the season.
“I’m privileged to play with the group of guys that I played with today,” Putman said. “I think we have accomplished a lot, even with Dom’s injury, a lot of guys had to step up. I’m just proud to be a part of this team.”
Putman also said, looking forward to next year, that the team will not take being a number one seed as a reason to take anything for granted.
“I feel like this team going into next year knows that nothing comes easy,” Putman said. “Even if you’re the number one seed, it doesn’t mean you’re supposed to win it. You have to work hard every day. That being said, I’m proud of this group of guys, and I couldn’t say that I wish for another season.”
Photo courtesy of FSC Sports Information