GRAMBLING — Southern started its winning streak four weeks ago with a hard-fought 66-61 victory against Grambling.
Any notion that the streak might end or that the rematch would be as close as the first meeting was shot down by Jaguars guards Adrian Rodgers and Trelun Banks on Saturday.
Rodgers made four 3-pointers in seven attempts, eight field goals in 14 attempts and 10 free throws in 12 attempts as he scored a game-high and career-high 30 points. Banks was 5-of-7 on 3-pointers, missed his only 2-pointer, and made 3-of-4 free throws in scoring 18 points as Southern won its eighth straight game by beating the Tigers 79-66 in the Fredrick C. Hobdy Athletic Center.
The Jaguars (16-7, 8-2 Southwestern Athletic Conference) will go for nine in a row when they visit Jackson State on Monday. Jackson State lost to Alcorn State 72-64 Saturday to fall out of a second-place tie with Southern and into a third-place tie with the Braves.
Grambling (6-16, 3-7) lost for the seventh time in eight games, a stretch that began with the first meeting between these teams.
“It takes a little more pressure off the rest of us when he has the hot hand,” Banks said of Rodgers. “They can’t help so much, and it becomes pick your poison.”
Christopher Hyder had 10 points, eight of which came in the second half, six assists and six steals.
Rodgers said the Jaguars, who had their highest point total in a SWAC game this season and have scored more than 70 points in each of the past four games, have become a more dangerous offensive team this season.
“We have more experience at the guard position,” said Rodgers, who is a senior, as is Hyder, one year more experienced than Banks. “We know what it takes to get our shots.”
Southern shot 51 percent from the floor, including 47.6 percent (10-of-21) on 3-pointers.
“(Rodgers) is the one guy who always has the green light to shoot,” coach Roman Banks said. “He’s the first option in a lot of things that we run. So when he gets in a good groove like he did tonight, he can score 30 any night. I don’t expect it every night, but it doesn’t surprise me when it happens.”
Ervin Mitchell led Grambling with 26 points, Deonte Hearns scored 15, and Nigel Ribeiro had 10.
Southern led by four at halftime, and Rodgers helped extend the lead early in the second half.
He scored nine points as the Jaguars built the lead to 13 after seven minutes.
Ribeiro made a layup to stop a 10-0 run, but Banks made a 3-pointer as the lead grew to 16. Another 3-pointer by Banks pushed the lead to 17 with 10:44 left.
The biggest lead came two minutes later when Rodgers made another 3-pointer.
The Tigers chipped away as Hearns and Mitchell scored eight points each to cut the lead to eight with 2:48 left, but any hope they had was short-lived.
On the next possession Rodgers swished a jumper from the corner and Southern pulled away.
“When the ball is coming off my hand right I feel good,” Rodgers said. “I don’t judge it by misses and makes.”
Grambling had a 14-10 lead before going cold and not making a field goal for nearly nine minutes.
Rodgers, Banks and Rashad Andrews each made a 3-pointer to lead a 13-0 run before the Tigers ended a 6½-minute scoring drought on Mark Gray’s two free throws.
Mitchell and Ribeiro each made a 3-pointer as Grambling got within four points, but Banks’ 3-pointer helped give Southern a 33-27 halftime lead.
Follow Les East on Twitter, @EastAdvocate.