The Southern men’s basketball team rode its defense in the second half to a 68-56 victory against Prairie View in their Southwestern Athletic Conference opener Saturday at the F.G. Clark Activity Center.

The Jaguars (4-11 overall) outscored the Panthers (2-12) 41-24 in the second half, allowing just 8-of-28 field goals, including 1-of-8 on 3-pointers.

The pivotal stretch was an 18-3 run during which Prairie View made just one field goal in 8½ minutes.

“We were trying to contest everything,” Southern coach Roman Banks said. “We did a good job of shutting them down, and we were able to win each possession.”

The run began after the Panthers had taken a 41-38 lead after Jacoby Green made a layup with 11:42 left.

Trelun Banks was at the forefront of the decisive stretch. He grabbed a loose ball in the lane, made a layup and converted a three-point play. After Tre Lynch scored on a drive, Banks fed Joell Hopkins for a layup.

Tre Hagood made a free throw for Prairie View, then Cameron Monroe scored on a drive for Southern, and Banks made a steal and a layup, then two free throws.

After a steal and layup by John Brisco, who tied Hagood with a team-high 13 points for the Panthers, Monroe made a 3-pointer, and Christopher Hyder hit two free throws to give the Jaguars a 56-44 lead with four minutes left.

“I was just playing basketball,” said Trelun Banks, who scored a game-high 17 points. “I saw what they were doing defensively, and I just tried to do other things to help us win.”

He supplemented his scoring with four steals, three assists and two rebounds.

The Jaguars last field goal came on Monroe’s 3-pointer with 5:55 left as Prairie View resorted to fouling to try and catch up. But Southern never created an opening as it made 17 of its last 21 free throws.

“We made most of our free throws, and any time you can step to that stripe and make them, that makes you happy as a coach,” Roman Banks said. “I challenged our guys to play tough defense at the end without fouling, and they did that. And they did a great job with the free throws.”

Adrian Rodgers scored 13 points, and Lynch had 12 for the Jaguars, who host Texas Southern at 8 p.m. Monday.

Southern led for much of the first half as hot shooting negated a rash of turnovers. The Jaguars twice led by six points, but led just 22-20 after making eight of their first 11 shots because of nine turnovers in the first 12 minutes.

The Panthers took the lead at 26-25 on Montrael Scott’s 3-pointer with 4:41 left in the half. That was part of an 11-2 run with which Prairie View closed the half.

Southern missed its last five shots of the half and committed 13 turnovers in falling behind 32-27 at halftime. The margin could have been bigger, but Rodgers shot 4-of-5, including 2-of-3 on 3-pointers, and scored 10.

“He’s a go-to- guy for us,” coach Banks said.

“We had some unforced turnovers,” Hyder said. “That enabled them to make that run late in the first half. In the second half, we didn’t have as many turnovers, and that’s why we were able to put them away.”

The Jaguars had just six turnovers in the second half. Though they still committed four more turnovers than the Panthers (19-15) for the game, they outscored them 20-18 on points off of turnovers.

Southern began the second half with an 11-4 run to briefly go up by two, but Prairie View regained a three-point lead with 11½ minutes left.

Then the Jaguars defense took over.

“Our defense did a great job and Trelun made some steals and got out in the open court,” Hyder said. “When we’re doing that, that’s when we’re at our best.”

Follow Les East on Twitter @EastAdvocate.