The Arkansas-Pine Bluff Lady Lions overcame a huge second-half run by Prairie View A&M and pulled off a 57-50 SWAC win at H.O. Clemmons Arena on Monday night.
“It was a great win for the program,” UAPB assistant coach Danny Evans said after the game. “When we execute and take care of the basketball, we can play with somebody.”
With UAPB (7-10, 3-4 SWAC) leading 26-23 after a three-pointer from senior Lakendra Marsh, Prairie View (6-11, 3-4) went on a 13-0 run over 6 minutes to take a 36-26 lead with 14:09 left in the game.
In the past, the Lady Lions might have panicked and let the deficit get even worse.
“We try to give them more confidence,” Evans said. “It is the little things that you are doing wrong is what gave them that lead.
“Missing free throws, turning the ball over and giving up offensive rebounds. That was the tale of the tape.
“It wasn’t because they worked hard or nothing like that.”
Evans said it was just simple things like giving up offensive rebounds and putbacks.
Prairie View took its first lead in the second half after LaReahan Washington nailed a pair of free throws. A steal and a made free throw from JaQuandria Williams gave Prairie View a 28-26 lead with 16:17 left.
Two more free throws from Washington and a bucket by Jeanette Jackson put the Lady Panthers up by six points. Prairie View took a 10-point lead when Larissa Scott made two free throws with 14:09 left.
Following a media timeout with 11:33 left in the game, UAPB began to make a run of its own.
Junior Marion Thompson grabbed an offensive rebound and a putback to get it within five points.
Following a bucket from Prairie View, Marsh made a bucket and junior Christina Lasane made one of two from the line to get the deficit to 40-36.
Freshman Cassidy Wright tied it at 43 all with 6:36 after a steal, a layup and a pair of free throws.
“If you throw it away, and don’t box out for offensive rebounds, that is just the end of the game, we have no chance,” Evans said. “But if you secure the ball, hit our free throws, then it is a simple game.”
Senior Chi Chi Okwumabua gave the Lady Lions their final lead of the game when she nailed a pair of free throws with 1:40 left to make it 52-50.
Although it won’t show up on any score sheet, Evans said he was most proud of the defensive effort of sophomore and Pine Bluff native Alexi Rollins.
“She played a great game,” Evans said. “She stepped up in the lane and stepped up in the middle. She closed that lane like she was supposed to.
“She shut the door down.”
Rollins, who usually averages just 5 minutes a game, played 11 minutes in Monday’s win.
“She stepped up tonight,” Evans said. “She hasn’t been getting a lot of minutes, but we have been just tell her to ‘hang in there.’
“She shut them down defensively.”
Evans said “she closed that door and that girl couldn’t penetrate the lane anymore.”
Both teams struggled offensively as UAPB shot a measly 38 percent (16 of 42) from the floor and Prairie View was 33 percent (16 of 48).
UAPB made 21 of 30 from the free throw line and 4 of 14 from behind the arch. The Lady Panthers made 18 of 34 free throws but missed all six of their three-point attempts.
Prairie View outrebounded UAPB 39-24, including 14 offensive rebounds.
“They killed us on the boards,” Evans said. “That was ridiculous.
“We talked about it before. They are very athletic and they are going to come to the boards. You have to box them out and you got to do that on the floor.”
Okwumabua led the Lady Lions with 13 points with five rebounds and Lasane scored 11 points. Wright and junior Jenise Gentry contributed with seven points.
For Prairie View, Jackson led with 12 points and Williams scored nine points with 13 rebounds. Gabrielle Scott scored eight while Washington and Larissa Scott chipped in with seven points each.
UAPB will face Grambling State on Saturday beginning at 3 p.m.
“We’re hoping to stay on this and ride this for a couple more,” Evans said.