4 NCAA D1 Exhibitions in 5 Days For The Tigers
The Champion Tigers men's basketball team just wrapped up arguably their toughest stretch of the season, as they played 4 Division I teams in 5 days. All of the games are listed as exhibitions for the tigers, meaning the statistics and overall records will not be effected by the outcome. Since the Tigers were playing some big time national competition, 2 of the games were streamed on ESPN+, which is a great experience for the players.
The first game on the trip was against University of Arkansas Little Rock. The Tigers struggled from start to finish, matching up against a team with only two players under 6'4 (for reference, Champion only has 2 over 6'4). The size was a major problem for the Tigers, as they got extremely outrebounded and struggled with the full court press. A major highlight was the play from Zo Capaci, who scored 10 points on 50% shooting in 18 minutes, and Braylon Hawkins who had 20 points and 6 rebounds on 75% shooting.
After a day off, The Tigers travelled to Natchitoches, Louisiana to face Northwestern State University. This was the best game on the trip for Champion, competing from start to finish. Going into the half after a deep buzzer beater from AJ Williams, the Tigers were only down by 14. In the end, the size and length would be too much for the Tigers, as Northwestern State dominated with points in the paint. On the bright side, Champion kept the rebound battle to nearly even, shot 44% from the field (one of the best shooting games all year), and saw 4 starters score in double figures. AJ Williams led the way with 14, Braylon Hawkins finished with 11, and Keyshaun Scott and Zo Capaci both finished with 10.
On Monday Champion then drove down to McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. McNeese is another NCAA Division 1, and they were looking to bounce back after facing some tough competition early. The Cowboys came out hot in the first half and never looked back, taking a commanding lead early. The Tigers shooting was on of the positives, going 40% from the field and 34% from 3. One of the highlights of the game was when the Tigers showed their competitive spirit early in the second half. Champion Christian went on a 15-6 run in the second half, led by AJ Williams with 8 points and Braylon Hawkins with 7 points during the. AJ Williams finished the game with an impressive 23 points on 9/17 from the field and 5/7 for 3. Braylon Hawkins ended the game with 15 points and 8 rebounds on nearly 50% from the field. The freshman Malik Laurent also had a big game, finishing with 14 points and 6 rebounds, dunking the ball 5 times.
On the last game of the trip, Champion Christian College drove 3 hours to compete against University of Louisiana - Monroe. This game was also being played on ESPN+, and you could tell the Tigers were out of gas, missing a lot of their shots short and struggling to get stops on the defensive end. The whole team struggled from the floor shooting, and just seemed to have no energy to finish the trip. Tazion Glover finished with a season high in the game, giving great minutes off the bench, and Braylon Hawkins led the scoring with 15 points.
The Tigers travelled over 2,000 miles over the 4 game stretch, and get a brief one day break before heading to Oklahoma Christian University (NCAA DII) on November 18, 2021.