Story and Photos by Kristina McKay and Tommy Boatman
Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved
HOUSTON, TEXAS (March 11, 2018) Texas Southern University Tigers faced off against The University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions Saturday for the SWAC Men’s basketball championship. The Tigers came out strong and in control and even when The Lions appeared to be coming back, TSU shut them down and came away on top winning the title for the second year in a row. They are now headed back to the NCAA tournament for their fourth time in five years and are the first team to start 0-13 and make the NCAA tournament. The team has battled through countless suspensions of multiple players, as well as losing the SWAC Player of Year from last season in Zach Lofton, who transferred to New Mexico State.
The Tigers started out the game like they were the No. 1 seed in the SWAC tournament, jumping out to a quick 13-point lead with 10 minutes left in the first half. The SWAC All-Tournament Player Donte Clark had 11 of them and finished with 14 points. The Golden Lions pulled within 4 points with about 4 minutes left in the first half but TSU refused to let UAPB get a strong hold and the half ended with the Tigers owning a 45-36 lead.
In the second half, Arkansas-Pine Bluff came out motivated and pulled to within two as Texas Southern started to make little mistakes. They let off the gas, gave up several turnovers and then Donte Clark fouled out for the second game in a row. However, as Clark stepped off Lamont Walker stepped up keeping the Tigers’ heads in the game. Luckily or blessed, depending on who you ask, Walker had just come back on their last road trip after being suspended. The senior was motivated to make a difference, as was the SWAC tournament Most Valuable Player Demontrae Jefferson who finished with 15 points with 7 assists and 6 rebounds, Trayvon Reed who had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds and Derrick Bruce who pitched in 13 points, including four 3-pointers. The game ended 84-69, and while it was the first time this season that TSU had managed to beat UAPB, getting swept by them during the regular season, this was the game that mattered most and bought them a ticket to the “big show”.