GARLAND, Texas — Most wouldn’t have figured Prairie View A&M for an NCAA tournament team.
Not after the Panthers finished Southwestern Athletic Conference play 8-10 for a share of fifth place. Not after they entered the conference tournament owning only two trips past the first round since 2003. Certainly not after they suffered a 22-point home loss to Southern in their regular-season finale.
But the Panthers were just feet away Saturday when Jourdan DeMuynck’s turnover under the Southern basket allowed the top-seeded Jaguars to survive a 45-44 nailbiter.
“I really thought we were going to win,” said Prairie View guard Carl Blair, who had 12 points and four assists. “It kind of feels like a bad dream right now.”
Prairie View (15-19) was hoping to earn its second trip to the NCAA tournament. The Panthers previously reached the Big Dance in 1998, losing to top seed Kansas in the first round.
Earlier in the day, the Prairie View women beat Mississippi Valley State in four overtimes, giving the Lady Panthers their third straight SWAC tournament title and NCAA tournament berth.
The team watched the men’s final in a set of bleachers near the Prairie View band.
“There was some great basketball played today,” Prairie View men’s coach Byron Rimm said. “I wish we could have finished the PV party out and gotten the win.”
Dancing to Dayton?
A day after earning its first NCAA tournament bid in seven years, the Southern men’s basketball team will find out Sunday where it is headed and what opponent it will face.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has projected Southern as a No. 16 seed in the NCAA tournament and part of the “First Four” play-in round. His projections Saturday had the Jaguars facing Morgan State with a chance to meet No. 1 seed Louisville. Morgan State lost the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title game to North Carolina A&T on Saturday, so A&T could be a likely foe.
The “First Four” games are Tuesday and Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio.
“At this time, all they need to do is give us a telephone call,” Southern coach Roman Banks said. “It doesn’t matter who they want us to play or where it is; we’ll be there two hours before the game and ready to play.”
The Jaguars will gather at TJ Ribs on Acadian Thruway at 4:30 p.m. for a Selection Show watch party. The bracket will be revealed at 5 p.m. on CBS.
Beltran named MVP
Southern senior guard Derick Beltran was named MVP of the SWAC tournament after averaging 16 points in two games. He had 13 points and seven rebounds Saturday.
Beltran was joined on the All-SWAC tournament team by Southern teammate Malcolm Miller, who had 19 points in the semifinals Friday and six points Saturday.
DeMuynck, who had 37 points against Jackson State in a semifinal win, and Blair represented Prairie View on the team. The other members of the six-man squad were Jackson State’s Christian Williams and Alabama A&M’s DeMarquelle Tabb.
The women’s team was Prairie View’s Kiara Etienne (MVP) and Latia Williams, Mississippi Valley’s Khristina Clemons, Texas Southern’s Te’era Williams, Arkansas Pine Bluff’s Chigozianyi Okwumabua and Grambling’s Joanna Miller.