ITTA BENA, Miss. — It’s not known whether Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s men’s basketball season will continue into the SWAC tournament.
But if it doesn’t, the Golden Lions can at least say they went out winners — with a championship still a possibility. But they had to work 5 extra minutes to make that happen.
UAPB defeated Mississippi Valley State 78-70 in overtime Thursday to conclude its regular season at 16-14 overall — its first winning season in three years — and 15-3 in the SWAC. With Texas Southern’s 79-66 win over Southern on Thursday, UAPB now trails Texas Southern by just a half-game for the conference lead and can earn a share of the regular-season championship if Alcorn State upsets TSU on Saturday.
UAPB and Valley are banned from this postseason for a low Academic Progress Rate, but UAPB has been trying to get the penalty overturned, providing the NCAA with corrections in information needed to figure the APR in the process. If the ban is lifted, the Lions will be a top-two seed in the March 12-16 SWAC tournament in Garland, Texas, because Texas Southern is also banned from the postseason for other NCAA violations.
Davon Haynes and Terrell Kennedy each scored 15 points to lead UAPB on Thursday. Haynes shot 5 of 7 from the floor, pulled down six rebounds, collected two steals and made two assists.
Tevin Hammond had 13 points, including an 8-for-8 free-throw performance. Mitchell Anderson scored nine points, Daniel Broughton and Marcel Mosley added eight apiece and Lazabian Jackson had nine rebounds to go with six points.
The Lions outscored the Delta Devils (5-23, 5-13) 13-5 in overtime, making only 1 of 3 field goals compared to Valley’s 1 of 7. For the game, the Lions made 23 of 55 shots from the field for 41.8 percent, including 6 of 17 from three-point range, and made 26 of 37 free throws for 70.3 percent.
Valley hit 18 of 58 from the field (31 percent) including 8 of 33 from the arc, and converted 26 of 39 free throws.
The game was tied 14 times, but UAPB dominated in the paint with a 28-16 edge and outscored Valley 28-14 in points off turnovers. UAPB also had a 42-41 rebounding advantage.
Davon Usher scored 17 points and added six rebounds to lead the Devils. Darryl Marshall and Marcus Johnson added 12 points apiece.
This was the last regular season game for UAPB seniors Jackson, Kennedy, Anderson, Demetrius Smith and Kyle Jones.
UAPB 63, Valley 51
ITTA BENA, Miss. — Coach Nate Kilbert returned to his alma mater and old workplace Thursday and left with a victory against his former team in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Kilbert’s Lady Lions (11-17, 7-11 SWAC) outscored the Devilettes 38-29 in the second half and limited them to 35.6 percent shooting on the night.
Jenise Gentry, who made 10 of 12 free throw attempts, paced the Lady Lions with 16 points. Chi Chi Okwumabua added 12 points for UAPB, which shot 40 percent (18 of 45) from the field and 76.5 percent (26 of 34) from the free-throw line.
Khristina Clemons led Valley (15-14, 12-6) with a career-high 21 points. She converted on 9 of 14 shots and three of four free throws. Alia Frank added nine points and three blocks while Joncyee Sanders chipped in eight points and six assists.
The Lady Lions are currently eighth in SWAC standings, just a half-game behind Alabama State for the seventh seed. They will participate in the upcoming SWAC tournament.