The first 20 minutes — not the last 20 — of Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s home opener was a little bit of a struggle.
UAPB rebounded from nearly a 6-minute cold spell in the first half to trail by only six points at halftime, but Southern’s zone defense and the outside shooting of Malcolm Miller helped spoil the Golden Lions’ home opener as the Jaguars took a 60-56 victory before 4,976 fans at H.O. Clemmons Arena on Saturday night.
“We missed some opportunities and we had to make shots,” UAPB coach George Ivory said. “When you’re not making shots, they’re going to pack it (the zone) in. I thought it was a good game; we just made some crucial mistakes down the stretch.”
The Lions (4-12, 2-2 SWAC) last led 11-9 with 15:31 left in the first half but went on a scoring spell until the 9:41 mark. Known for their second-half struggles throughout the season, they made only 7 of 24 field goals for 29.2 percent in the first 20 minutes.
“I don’t think they took us out of our rhythm,” said UAPB forward Davon Haynes, who had a game-high 19 points and 11 rebounds. “I think they came out with a little more intensity than us the first couple of minutes.”
As for that usually dreaded second half, it turned out one of their better halves, as they outscored the Jaguars 32-30. But Southern used its zone to force UAPB into bad passes and kept the Lions from converting short-range baskets at critical points in the game. UAPB totaled 12 turnovers to Southern’s 6.
UAPB trailed 40-29 with 12:32 left in the game and responded with a 9-2 run aided by a Marcel Mosley three-pointer and Haynes putback. But the Jaguars found success attacking the rim and built a 51-41 lead after a Miller trey with 5:16 left.
Miller scored 14 points to lead Southern (9-9, 5-0), knocking down 5 of 7 field goals including 4 of 6 treys. But Haynes scored four points and Mosley hit a three during a 10-2 run that made pulled the Lions within 53-51 with 1:29 left. Trelun Banks responded with drive to the basket as the shot clock almost ran out to make it a two-possession game.
UAPB made it a one-possession game again with 16 seconds left after Broughton completed a three-point play, but Trey Lynch knocked down a pair of Southern free throws and the Lions could not connect from the field on the final possession.
The Lions held two-time reigning SWAC Player of the Week Calvin Godfrey finished with 11 points and three rebounds, but the former Iowa State player had three dunks in the game.
“Godfrey still did some good things out there, but stopping him was a big thing on our scouting report,” Haynes said. “We keyed on him, so we were able to stop him.”
Tevin Hammond ended up with 13 points and six assists, and Mosley added 11 points and three assists for the Lions, who finished the game 17 for 49 (34.7 percent) from the field (including 4 of 19 from the perimeter) and 18 for 23 (78.3 percent) from the line.
Southern fared 18 for 51 (35.3 percent) from the field, including 4 of 12 from three-point range, and made 20 of 36 free throws (55.6 percent). But UAPB won the rebounding battle, 42-30.
GOLDEN LION NOTES: UAPB junior guard DeAndre McIntyre left the game after a left knee injury on a block attempt with 21.5 seconds left in the first half. He had to be carried off the court by a couple of his teammates. Ivory said the team trainer diagnosed the injury as an ACL tear, but McIntyre is expected to undergo medical tests soon to confirm. … There was an abnormally high number of stoppages in the game due to the shot clock not starting on time. … Southern’s bench outscored UAPB’s 16-4.