Pine Bluff held Texarkana to just four points in the fourth quarter en route to a 52-36 win in the Zebras’ conference opener Friday at McFadden Gymnasium.
“It is a whole different season,” Pine Bluff head coach Carl Smith said. “That other stuff we did, that’s behind us.
“It is like I told the guys, ‘Where we fall in conference, is going to be the nick to this season.’”
Pine Bluff (6-5, 1-0 7A/6A-South) led Texarkana (5-8, 0-1) 43-34 with 4:46 left in the fourth quarter and finished the game on a 9-2 run to win by 16 points.
With 4:11 left in the game, Pine Bluff’s Ladarius Skelton made one of two from the free throw line but he quickly followed with a rebound and a put back to push the Zebras’ lead to 46-34.
Marcus Thomas made a bucket and David Beasley used a cross-over dribble to make an easy drive to the basket and finished with a layup. Beasley’s bucket gave Pine Bluff the 50-34 lead.
Pine Bluff trailed 20-18 with about 2:21 left in the first half. But thanks to a 5-0 run thanks in part to a bucket from Edward Napper and a free throw by Victor Ryland.
It gave the Zebras a 23-20 lead by halftime.
“We don’t really want to hang in there,” Smith said. “We want to establish our dominance on the floor.
“We don’t want to walk it down, we like to move and we like the fast pace. But that wasn’t in our favor tonight.
“But we are going to find games like that.”
Texarkana started the second half on a 7-0 run to retake the lead 27-23 with 5:33 left in the third quarter.
“It was a good thing we were at home,” Smith said. “The rhythm wasn’t totally in our favor, but the outcome was.”
Following a timeout by Pine Bluff, Roosevelt Murray made a bucket to get within two points. A steal by J’marlos Johnson and a bucket by Beasley tied the game at 27 with less than three minutes left in the quarter.
Texarkana retook the lead at 29-27 on a bucket by Camera Moore with 2:19 left.
Malcom Elliott, who scored nine of Texarkana’s first 12 points, finished the game with a team-high 14 points.
Thomas finished 14 points for Pine Bluff and Johnson had 11 points with eight rebounds.
Pine Bluff will travel to Bryant on Tuesday.