HOUSTON — It was Southern and Texas Southern. There was a physical play under the basket. Players rushed to check on a teammate, and the temperature in the building spiked.
But unlike a week earlier when a bench-clearing brawl erupted after a foul in a game between the Southern and Texas Southern women’s teams, a physical play between those schools’ men’s teams in the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament title game Saturday didn’t lead to anything extra.
Southern led by one point with 27 seconds left when Jaguars guard Trelun Banks slammed TSU’s Malcolm Riley across the shoulder and neck, sending him crashing to the floor
Riley’s teammates rushed to check on him as he lay on the floor with a cut in his head.
“It’s a deep cut,” Riley said while wearing a bandage on his head during the Tigers news conference after their 62-58 win. “I’ll go get stitches after this. I’ll be good, I just took one for the team, and my teammates got it done.”
Deverell Biggs stepped in for Riley and made two free throws and the Tigers held on.
“I just took off and I saw an opening and went for the layup,” Riley said. “(Banks) kind of clothes-lined me. The refs made the right decision, and Biggs made two free throws. It was dirty, but it’s all a part of the game.”
The officials called a flagrant 2 foul, which brought an automatic ejection to Banks, son of Jaguars coach Roman Banks.
“I know coach Banks and his son didn’t do anything with malice,” Tigers coach Mike Davis said. “It looked really bad, but he was trying to make a play that any basketball player would make and try to prevent a three-point play.”
The women’s altercation caused the game to be stopped and declared a double forfeit. It drew national attention and led to the suspension of more than a dozen players.
“I think that was in (the officials’) mind,” coach Banks said. “It was a tough ballgame. I think it needs to be clear cut, but it had a lot do with what just happened with the two schools.”
Both coaches said they and their teams have a very good relationship.
Riley got a surprise after the game when teammate Madarious Gibbs gave him his tournament Most Valuable Player award.