Lazabian Jackson hit two free throws to tie the game with 5.8 seconds left. Mitchell Anderson converted two alley-oops. Terrell Kennedy finished with five blocks.
Just Arkansas-Pine Bluff seniors leaving everything they had on the floor at H.O. Clemmons Arena for the last time.
But they can thank two sophomores for helping them finish with an undefeated home record.
Sophomore Marcel Mosley deflected inbounds pass after Jackson’s free throws, Davon Haynes grabbed the loose ball on the floor and sophomore Tevin Hammond calmly sank the winning three-point basket in front of the pile with 1 second remaining as UAPB defeated Jackson State 73-72 Monday night. The Golden Lions (15-14, 14-3 SWAC), who have one regular-season game remaining, have assured themselves they will not finish with a losing record — especially if their NCAA postseason ban is not lifted — and have won all nine games at home.
The victory could have been taken away. UAPB drew a technical foul because the crowd from the student section stormed the court in a premature celebration with time still left on the clock. The fans celebrated for about 30 seconds, some of them mobbing Hammond and Haynes near the media table, before they realized the game was not over as the public address announcer instructed them to clear the court.
Christian Williams, the intended recipient of the failed inbounds pass, hit two free throws to make it a one-point game, but his half-court attempt afterward hit the top of the backboard as time expired.
The wild series of events completed a huge turnaround in 10 game seconds for UAPB. Anderson, who scored all nine of his points in the first half, was fouled on his way to the basket but missed the front end of 1-and-1. Jackson got the loose ball on the rebound and also was fouled before making a shot with 5.8 seconds left, but he sank his two free throws to tie the game at 70.
Jackson finished with 23 points. He shot 7 of 17 from the field — going 7 for 16 from three-point range — and added seven rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Kennedy had 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists to go with his five blocks. Hammond added 11 points and Haynes scored 10.
Anderson, the athletic swingman, rebounded a missed shot by Terrell Kennedy with a two-hand, reverse putback slam that got UAPB going after a slow start. It was the first of two alley-oops for the senior from Chicago, who helped UAPB build a 35-31 halftime lead.
All five of UAPB’s seniors — Demetrius Smith, Kyle Jones, Anderson, Kennedy, Jackson – got the starting nod for senior night. But the Lions found themselves behind 14-8 as they could not contain the Tigers’ outside shooting early on, giving up four three-pointers in the first 6 minutes.
Kelsey Howard, who led the Tigers (8-17, 7-9) with 23 points, hit the team’s first three from outside. He shot 9 of 16 from the field, including 4 of 8 from behind the arc.
Williams hit 3 of 8 from the perimeter in a 21-point effort.
The Lions led by as much as 50-41 with 13:16 left, but they got cold from the field, hitting 2 of 12 during one stretch. Forward Willie Readus kept the Tigers within striking distance with 10 of his 14 points in the second half, and Jackson State went ahead 54-53 on a Williams three with 7:07 left.
From there, neither team led by more than five points. UAPB led one time for 39 seconds during those final minutes until Hammond’s trey.
The Lions shot 25 of 63 from the floor for 39.7 percent, including 10 of 29 from the arc, and hit 13 of 18 free throws for 72.2 percent. The Tigers made 23 of 56 (41.1 percent) from the field, including 9 of 19 from the arc, and made all 17 of its free throws.
The score was tied six times and the lead changed hands 15 times.
LION NOTES: Haynes also had an alley-oop dunk but could not connect on two other attempts. … The Lions split the season series with Jackson State at one win apiece. Jackson State won 82-67 at home on Jan. 28. … UAPB remained in third place in SWAC standings with the win, trailing only Southern and Texas Southern by a half-game. Southern and Texas Southern each have two games left. … Attendance was 3,026, quite a drop from Saturday’s season-high 5,047 when Grambling State visited.