It was a top-two battle in the SWAC. May as well have some drama.
Marcel Mosley hit a go-ahead jumper with 58 seconds left, Southern missed two free throws and two three-point baskets in the final 38 seconds, and Arkansas-Pine Bluff joined the Jaguars atop the conference standings with a 55-52 victory Saturday at H.O. Clemmons Arena.
The share of first place came just in time for the Golden Lions to receive national exposure. They host Alcorn State at 8 p.m. Monday in a live ESPNU broadcast.
“It brings a different light, being 10-2 (in the conference), tied for first and getting ready to play on TV,” Lions coach George Ivory said.
Lazabian Jackson scored 20 points for the third consecutive game and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead UAPB (11-13, 10-2 SWAC). He shot 7 of 9 from the floor, including 6 of 8 from three-point range. He’s hit 19 of 25 threes in his last three games.
“We basically kept the same offense going, kept the same chip (on our shoulder),” Jackson said. “… I just keep working or whatever, not getting too complacent.”
Tevin Hammond also continued his assists tear, dishing out a season-high nine to give him 22 in his last three games. He also scored nine points, while Daniel Broughton poured in 16 points.
But Mosley scored the Lions’ biggest basket of the game with less than a minute to go, pulling up at the baseline for an 8-foot jumper to break a 52-all tie. Jackson committed a foul 20 seconds later when he bumped into a shooting Derick Beltran at the top of the key, but the fourth-leading scorer in the SWAC missed both free-throw attempts.
Hammond was then sent to the line, where he sank his first free throw and missed the second with 20.3 seconds remaining. Southern’s Jameel Grace missed a wide-open three at the top, and the Jaguars (16-8, 10-2) lost the ball out of bounds under the basket with 7.5 remaining. Jackson, trying to inbound the ball, called timeout on his first attempt, but was called for a 5-second violation before he could signal for time again. The Jaguars could not capitalize. Grace took a pass from Brandon Moore, rolled to the left wing and drew the front of the rim on a slightly contested three-ball at the buzzer.
The final result is a complete 180-degree turn from the 84-50 blowout win over the Golden Lions on Jan. 12 that made the Jaguars seem invincible. After winning 12 of their last 13, they now have company at the top of the conference standings.
Southern coach Roman Banks said his team seemed timid Saturday.
“I think they’re playing not to lose instead of win,” he said. “This team’s been getting a lot of publicity. When it’s time to step up to the table, we go on the road, I challenged them tonight in adverse situations — and we have yet to do it. This team is just going to be an OK team in the end if we can’t stand up and go up on the road. It makes no sense that we’re a different team at home and on the road.”
Six of Southern’s losses have come on the road.
The Jaguars never led by more than two points. They last led 13-11, 6 minutes into the game, and trailed until Grace hit two free throws to tie the score at 52 with 1:25 left in the game. The Lions’ largest led as 40-30 with 12:25 to go.
“We didn’t take care of the ball,” Ivory said, his team committing 22 turnovers to Southern’s 12. “Unforced turnovers kept (Southern) in the game.”
UAPB, winner of three straight, posted its second-best field-goal shooting percentage of the season Saturday, hitting 51.3 percent (20 of 39). Broughton scored six of UAPB’s first 11 points before Jackson knocked down his first two threes back-to-back.
Jackson hit 7 of 9 from the field, making his only two-point attempt in the second half.
Beltran led them with 18 points and Moore added 12 points and nine rebounds, but Malcolm Miller, Southern’s reserve guard who is second in the SWAC in scoring, was held to three points, shooting 1 of 9. Miller averaged 16.9 points per game going into Saturday.
LION NOTES: UAPB shot better than 50 percent from the field for the second straight game, just shy of its season-best 53.8 percent against Alabama A&M on Monday. It also shot a season-best 80 percent from the free-throw line (8 of 10), getting 6 of 6 from Broughton, and hit 46.7 percent (7 of 15) from the arc. … Southern struggled to 30.6 percent from the field (15 of 49), including a 4-of-17 performance from the perimeter, and converted 18 of 25 free throws for 72 percent. … UAPB led 26-23 at halftime and went on to outrebound Southern 31-26. … Attendance was 3,462, second-best for a UAPB home game this season. … In non-basketball news, UAPB announced its 2013 football schedule will be released Tuesday. It’s already been announced the Lions will start the season at Arkansas State on Aug. 31 and play at McNeese State on Sept. 7.