Pensacola, FL - Tallahassee Community College picked up its 500th NJCAA victory on Saturday night, defeating FCSAA No. 8 Pensacola State College, 77-73, in Panhandle Conference basketball action.
The win also clinched a 22nd consecutive winning season for Tallahassee, who finished the 2012-13 campaign with a 15-13 record (2-10 Panhandle Conference).
The milestone victory didn’t come easy for Tallahassee, who had to overcome an early 11-point deficit.
Pensacola State point guard Devin Wilson hit a trio of three-pointers in the first six-plus minutes – the last coming at the 13:48 mark to give the Pirates a 16-5 lead.
After Tallahassee scored six unanswered points, Pensacola State unleashed another three-point barrage. The Pirates’ next four baskets, including three from Wilson, were from long distance. Wilson knocked down the last of the four three-pointers, and his sixth of the night, to push Pensacola State’s lead back to 28-17 at the 7:02 mark.
Wilson added a seventh three-pointer before the intermission but it was Marlon Johnson’s buzzer-beater from just shy of half court that capped a 6-0 run and had Tallahassee within two points, 37-35, at the half.
After watching Wilson connect on 7-of-9 three-pointers, Tallahassee extended its defense in the second half and limited him to just 1-of-5 from long distance and 1-of-6 shooting overall.
Pensacola State still shot a respectable 11-of-26 (42.3 percent) from the floor and hit six more three-pointers, but Tallahassee turned to its own red-hot shooter in the second 20 minutes.
Bernard Kline, who entered the game averaging 8.2 points, hit 6-of-7 shots, including all three of his three-point attempts, and scored 15 points after the break.
As a team, Tallahassee shot 55.2 percent (16-of-29) from the floor in the second half.
Kline’s three-pointer, the last of his season-high 22 points, capped a 10-1 run and gave the Eagles a 68-59 lead with 3:13 left. But Pensacola State answered and pulled within a bucket following two free throws by Duwad Salaam with 24 seconds remaining.
On the ensuing inbounds play, C.J. Washington hauled in a pass from Johnson that nearly traveled the length of the floor, converted the layup and drew a foul in the process. The subsequent free throw gave the Eagles a 75-70 lead and all but sealed the win.
Like Kline, Washington was playing his final game in a Tallahassee uniform. The UAB signee scored 16 points and pulled down seven rebounds.
Fellow sophomore Curtis Diamond rounded out Tallahassee’s double-figure scorers with 11 points.
Tallahassee’s first NJCAA victory came on November 7, 1991, a 116-84 win over Bishop State (Ala.) Community College, in a game that took place in New Orleans, La.
Beginning with that victory, Tallahassee has posted a record of 500-175, a winning percentage of 74.1 percent. The Eagles have averaged 22.7 wins per season, recorded fifteen 20-win seasons, won or shared four Panhandle Conference Championships, and won three NJCAA Region 8/FCSAA Championships.
The Eagles have needed only two coaches to get to the 500-win plateau. Mike Gillespie won 258 games in ten seasons (1991-2001) as Tallahassee’s head coach. Eddie Barnes, now with 12 seasons in the books, has been at the helm for 242 wins, culminating with Saturday’s triumph over Pensacola State.