It has been an exciting weekend of college basketball at the Elridge Blake Sports and Fitness Center as the 2023 Paradise Jam Men’s Tournament concludes with four games.
Missouri State 87 – Abilene Christian 69
The tournament championship game featured the Bears of Missouri State and the Wildcats of Abilene Christian. On paper, Missouri State was the heavy favorite going into this matchup. But the Wildcats started the game scorching hot, with Cameron Steele and Airion Simmons both nailing shots from behind the arc, giving Abilene Christian an early lead. That lead ballooned to as many as ten points before the Bears woke up and started to creep back into the game.
Alston Mason hit back-to-back three-point shots for the Bears, cutting the lead to four points with 8:30 to go in the opening period. Missouri State went ahead with 4:10 to go in the first half and never relinquished the lead for the rest of the game. The Bears won the 2023 Paradise Jam Men’s Tournament by a score of 87 – 69. Mason was the top scorer for the Bears with 21 points. Teammate Donovan Clay contributed 19 points. The Wildcats were led by Simmons 25 points. Missouri State Matthew Lee was named Tournament MVP.
Kent State 79 – Fordham 72
The big question in this matchup between Kent State Golden Flashes and Fordham Rams was which Kent State team would show up. In the Golden Flashes’ opening game of the tournament, they scored 100 points, shooting 54 percent from the field. However, in their second game, the Flashes weren’t so golden as they only scored 52 points, shooting 33 percent from the field. Kent State started this game off hot but found themselves trailing the Rams of Fordham by three points at halftime. In the second half, offensively, both teams struggled as Kent State only made 10 of their 28 shots but made 18 free throws while Fordham shot 25 percent. The Golden Flashes did just enough to hold off the Rams winning the game by the score of 79 – 72. Chris Payton Jr. was the top player for Kent State, recording 23 points and nine rebounds. The Rams were led by Japhet Medor with 18 points. Kent State finished third in the tournament.
San Jose State 71 – Hampton University – 52
This was a tale of two halves as the opening frame was very competitive, with both teams executing their offense and working hard on defense. The Spartans of San Jose State started strong but just couldn’t pull away from the Pirates of Hampton University. The Pirates took a 4-point lead into intermission. However, the second half was all San Jose State. The Spartans shot 55 percent from the field, including 6-of-13 from behind the arc. Conversely, the Pirates shot 32 percent, only making one of the nine three-point shots taken in the final frame. San Jose State walked away with a 71-52 victory. Alvaro Cardenas led the way for the Spartans, scoring 23 points. Joseph Lusane was the top performer for the Pirates with 17 points. San Jose State took fifth place with this win.
Norfolk State 69 – Florida Gulf Coast University 66
Norfolk State Spartans and Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) Eagles came into the last day of the tournament, seeking their first win. The Eagles soared out to an 11-2 early lead. But it was short-lived, as the Spartans came all the way back to take a ten-point halftime lead. That advantage ballooned to 19 points in the second half before the Eagles cut the lead to one point with 7:14 left in the game. As hard as FGCU fought to get back in the game, they were never able to take the lead and Norfolk State escaped with a 69-66 victory. Jamarii Thomas scored 27 points for the winners. Zach Anderson dropped 17 for the Eagles. Norfolk State finished the tournament in seventh place.
This concludes the 2023 Paradise Jam Men’s Tournament. Eight women’s teams will start their tournament on Thursday at the Elridge Blake Sports and Fitness Center.
Women’s Tournament Schedule:
Cincinnati vs Colorado – 2:00 p.m.
Kentucky vs NC State – 4:15 p.m.
High Point vs South Florida – 6:45 p.m.
Arizona State vs Texas – 9:00 p.m.