The Southern men's basketball team tantalizingly put itself in position to defeat Southwestern Athletic Conference rival Grambling, but the Jaguars came up short in the second half.
With Southern scoring just four points in the game’s final 11 minutes, Grambling rallied to take a 61-56 win Saturday evening at the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
Brendon Brook scored 14 points to lead four Jaguars in double figures. Devante Jackson and Cameron Christon each scored 13 points for Grambling (9-7, 3-0 SWAC).
“We just don’t know how to win,” Southern coach Sean Woods said. “We’re probably the most inexperienced team in the country. (The team) is doing everything we’re asking them to do. It comes down to withstanding runs at the end.”
There were positives for Southern (3-13, 0-3).
The Jaguars held Grambling's top player, guard Ivy Smith, to seven points, and limited the Tigers to 40% shooting from the field.
“We did everything we’re supposed to do except win the game,” Woods said. “That’s been our M.O. all year.”
To its credit, Grambling only had three turnovers in the second half. It also finished 21 of 23 on free throws.
After trailing 44-31 early in the second half, Grambling (9-7, 3-0) went on a 15-4 run. Brendon Brook’s driving basket gave Southern a 52-46 lead with 11:14 left to play, but the Jaguars only made one field goal the rest of the game.
Still, it took Grambling a while before it took its first lead of the second half, 55-54 after two free throws by Travell Cunningham. Ashante Shivers jumper gave Southern its last lead at 56-55 with 6:52 left to play.
Southern had two possessions with a chance to extend its lead but missed jumpers both times. Prince Moss fed Kelton Edwards for an inside basket as Grambling took the lead for good with 4:47 left.
“We’ve done this all year, even our games on the road,” Woods said. “We’ve been in the lead probably 80% of our games. We’re doing the same things. Defensively we had some good stands, but sooner or later they’re going to score if we don’t.”
Southern used outside shooting to control the first half. The Jaguars connected on 12 of 26 shots overall, but from 3-point range Southern made 9 of 12 shots. It was enough to boost Southern to a 40-29 lead at halftime.
The score was tied 9-9 before Southern made five 3-pointers to fuel a 15-2 run. Micah Bradford, Brendon Brook, Lamarcus Lee and Amel Kuljohovic all had 3-pointers as Southern took a 24-11 lead.
Grambling got as close as 26-20 after a 3-pointer by Cameron Christon with 4:53 left in the half. Southern started hitting 3-pointers again and took a 40-27 lead after Ashante Shivers 3-pointer with a minute to go.