SSU Denied Berth In Div. II Playoffs
When the 28 teams were announced on November 14, 2021 for the the Division II playoffs, Savannah State did not hear their name called.
Entering the final weekend of regular season play, the Tigers were ranked eighth in the Super Region 2 polls. To almost assure themselves of a playoff spot, Savannah State needed some teams ranked ahead of them to lose and that happened.
Top ranked Valdosta State lost to fourth ranked West Florida and sixth ranked Mars Hill fell to Wingate.
Instead of being bumped up to seventh, SSU remained eighth and ninth ranked Lenoir-Rhyne moved ahead of the Tigers to seventh and claimed the final playoff spot.
According to Chuck Binter of D2Football.com, “it was very close between SSU and LR for the last spot.”
Both teams had 8-2 overall records and their strength of schedule were almost identical (.514 to .513). The difference was results against teams .500 or better. Lenoir-Rhyne was 4-1 while SSU went 2-2. Against ranked teams LR was 1-1 and Savannah State was 0-2 with losses to Valdosta State and Albany State.
Savannah State’s lone Division II playoff appearance came back in 1992. Fort Valley State won the SIAC title that year but SSU’s strength of schedule earned them an at large bid with a 8-3 regular season record. The Tigers faced Jacksonville State in the opening round where they lost 41- 16.
Steve Aycock was a captain on that team and played center on the offensive line. He says the honor of representing Savannah State was the best feeling next to graduation. He added that the team had 85 student athletes that were hungry for the opportunity.
“The extra weeks of practice was grueling, the gnats were biting hard and the dinners Mrs. Pat (from the dining hall) supplied for us was all worth it . That smile on Dr. Gardner and the tears Coach Davis shed gave us the feeling we did something really special.”
Aycock, like most SSU fans are looking for even better things to come from the team in 2022. He challenged the team to continue to trust the process and pay attention to the small details of the game.
Tigers Start Basketball Season With Win
The Savannah State men’s and women’s basketball teams kicked off their 2021-22 seasons with exhibition wins over Fort Stewart in games played in Tiger Arena on November 10.
The SSU women won their game 114-60 while the Tigers walked away with a 80-57 victory.
In the women’s contest, four Lady Tigers scored in double figures with Azhana Maxwell scoring 24 points, Amari Heard scoring 19, Bria Gibbs getting 15 and Shekinah Howard chipping in 11. Autumn Westmoreland had eight rebounds, Mia Goolsby had five assists while Heard, Maxwell and Jashiyah Jones had four steals each. SSU finished the game shooting 51.7 percent from the floor.
Fort Stewart, who out-rebounded SSU 46 to 44, was led by Alexus Parker’s 18 points. Jasmine Lee added 16 points and eight rebounds while Khalilah Watson contributed 10 points and eight boards.
In the men’s game, Marcus Scott hit six 3-pointers as he scored 20 points to lead the Tigers. Eleik Bowles had 16 points and Za’Khari Cobb added 11 points. Cobb and Andrew Okorodudu grabbed seven rebounds apiece and Scott had four assists.
Fort Stewart won the rebounding battle 48 to 47 and were led by Joseph Womack who had 20 points and 11 rebounds.
SSU led 50-25 at the half but was outscored 31-30 in the second period.
Phoenix Earns All-SIAC Honor
The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
(SIAC) announced its annual football awards to finish the 2021 season. The team, which features 26 student athletes covering eleven positions, was voted on by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors.
Among those making the all conference team was Savannah native and Benedict College quarterback Eric Phoenix.
Phoenix saw ac- tion in seven of Benedict’s ten games, with the Tigers going 4-3 in those contests. He completed 137-of-200 passes, a completion percentage of 68.5 percent, for 1,891 yards. He threw for 12 touchdowns and had 10 interceptions. His 1,891 passing yards ranked second in the SIAC despite playing in just seven games. He also rushed for 127 yards and four touchdowns.