Spotting Grambling a 19-0 lead proved to be too much for the Southern men's basketball team to overcome Saturday night.
Southern got within one point late in the game and had a chance to tie in the closing seconds, but Ahsante Shivers 3-point attempt was off the mark leaving Grambling with a 72-69 win at the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
The loss drops Southern (4-7, 4-3 Southwestern Athletic Conference) into sixth place in the SWAC standings. It also snaps Southern’s 11-game home winning streak that began after a home loss to Grambling on Jan. 11, 2020.
Grambling (8-8, 6-3) was able to count on two players when it needed baskets in the second half. Guard Tra’Michael Moton scored 22 points and was complemented by post player Sarion McGee, who scored 21.
“Its just surprising that we came out so flat at the start, and it made it hard for us,” Southern coach Sean Woods said. “We got it close, but we couldn’t get over the hump. Every time we got close we’d turn the ball over and hurt ourselves.”
Samkelo Cele came off the bench to lead Southern with 27 points. With nine minutes left to play and Southern trailing 55-52, Cele was fouled making a breakaway dunk but missed the tying free throw.
Grambling responded with a 7-1 spurt to take a 62-55 lead.
“It was free throws. I missed about five of them, and that’s never good enough,” Cele said. “All in all we didn’t wake up and come ready to play today. It was a big game. We all knew that, and some of us were just flat-footed.”
Southern trailed 71-62 with a minute left. With the help of two steals, the Jaguars sandwiched two baskets by Jayden Saddler around a Cele 3-pointer to get within 71-69. After Moton made 1 of 2 free throws with 16 seconds to go, the Jaguars worked the ball to Shivers, whose 3-point attempt from the left wing bounced high off the back iron.
Southern looked out of sorts when the game began.
The Jaguars gave up a 3-pointer seconds into the game, then had turnovers on their first two possessions. Grambling scored after each one, and led 9-0 when Moton made two free throws three minutes into the contest.
Southern missed its first six shots from the field and was 3 for 12 while Grambling made 11 of its first 13 shots. The Tigers lead grew to 19-0 with 14:20 left in the half after Zahad Munford and Moton made 3-pointers on consecutive Grambling possessions.
Cele finished off a fast break with a layup with 13:54 left in the first half to finally get Southern on the scoreboard.
Southern put together a 15-4 run to get the lead back to 31-22. Cele scored eight points, and Shivers' 3-pointer in the final minute of the half cut the Jaguars' deficit to 40-33 at halftime.