The Southern men's basketball team hit a wall in the second half against Grambling.
The Jaguars held a six-point lead early in the second half Saturday at the F.G. Clark Activity Center but then went scoreless for more than six minutes, allowing the Tigers to take control. What was a tightly contested game for 28 minutes turned into a blowout 59-40 win for Grambling.
Southern (3-20, 2-8 Southwestern Athletic Conference) led 23-20 at halftime and moved ahead 27-21 on Brian Assie’s tip-in with 18:37 to go in the second half. After that, Southern missed its next nine shots from the field and didn’t score again until DeRias Johnson’s driving basket with 12:15 left.
That basket tied the score 29-29, but Grambling went on a 14-3 run to take control. Grambling’s Ivy Smith, who scored 15 of his game-high 21 points in the second half, also had four steals to lead the Tigers.
Southern played without walk-ons Destin Dunton and Brendon Brooks, who missed the game because of illness according to coach Sean Woods. The short-handed lineup produced Southern’s lowest point total since a 69-38 loss at Ole Miss on Nov. 20, 2014.
“In the first half, I couldn’t have asked for a better effort defensively — even in the second half, for the most part,” Woods said. “We just couldn’t get any scoring in the second half. We had some open looks, didn’t make them. Our guys fought; they just couldn’t finish.”
Grambling (12-11, 6-4), which outrebounded Southern 41-29, was able to muscle past the Jaguars inside after Bryan Assie ran into second-half foul trouble. Devante Jackson had 12 points and seven rebounds for the Tigers, and Travon Bunch had four rebounds and two blocks.
Sidney Umude scored 12 first-half points for Southern but only five in the second half. He was the only Jaguar in double-figure scoring. Umude had seven rebounds while Assie grabbed six and blocked three shots.
“I can’t be that down on our guys right now,” Woods said. “We’re still fighting, and that’s all I can ask for. It shows a lot of character in our program right now.”
Southern took an 8-2 lead in the game’s first three minutes and went on to lead throughout the first half. Sidney Umude’s jumper gave Southern its largest lead of the half at 14-6 with more than 14 minutes left.
Grambling was within arm’s length of Southern most of the half but could only get as close as two points.
Each team grabbed 17 rebounds in the half, and Southern had seven turnovers while Grambling had six. The difference was the shooting touch for each team. Southern shot 42 percent (11 of 26) while Grambling connected on 8 of 26 shots (31 percent).