The Tallahassee Community College Eagles rallied behind Cameron Naylor's third career double-double, 30 points and 12 rebounds, and defeated Gulf Coast State College 88-83 in a thrilling Panhandle Conference men's basketball matchup.
Tallahassee (13-10, 2-5 PC) came into Tuesday's game hungry for its second Panhandle Conference win. The first was a dominant 21-point victory against then top-ranked Chipola College on January 14.
The Eagles are ranked No. 10 in the Florida College System Activities Association (FCSAA) Men's Basketball Coaches' Poll while Gulf Coast State (15-8, 3-3 PC) College is ranked sixth.
Gulf Coast State came out of the gates firing, coasting through the first three minutes of the game on an 11-3 run. Tallahassee would eventually find their rhythm and fight back. The lead changed hands five times in the first 20 minutes. Shooting 57 percent from behind the arc helped the Eagles gain a two point advantage at halftime, leading Gulf Coast State 38-36.
Earvin Morris and Naylor led the Eagles in scoring at the break. Morris was the leading scorer with twelve, while Naylor also reached double figures with ten. Naylor pulled down eight boards as well.
Tallahassee's presence inside carried over into the second half. The Eagles seemed to be an offensive juggernaut, taking the ball to the rim and having the vision to kick it out to the wing for open threes when the defense collapsed.
The second half was nothing short of dramatic and intense for both teams. Several key players stepped up for the Eagles when it mattered most. Both teams were trading buckets while precious seconds ticked away on the clock.
Marlon Johnson grabbed key offensive rebounds and converted on some putbacks. The Eagles were able to force turnovers and draw fouls, leading to critical points from the free throw line. The biggest free throws came from Naylor who knocked down two with less than 15 seconds to play, sealing the victory for the Eagles.
While many players came up big, Naylor picked the right time to have the game of his life. He was unconscious from the field, knocking down 61 percent of his shots en route to his career-high scoring output.
Aside from Naylor, Tallahassee received double-digit games from four other players including Johnson, Morris, Dirk Williams and Cameron Dozier. Morris had the second-highest total with 15.
This was a big win for Tallahassee as they are striving to lock up a top two finish in the Panhandle. The Eagles have a round of games remaining against each PC opponent and a second matchup with Chipola. The first of the two remaining meetings with the Indians is Tallahassee's next game, which is scheduled for Saturday, February 1 on the road.