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Perfect Homestand: Lions pull off fourth-straight dramatic victory


When the Arkansas-Pine Bluff starters could not get going, the second string did.

When the Golden Lions needed a big basket in the clutch, they turned to a second-stringer.

Trent Whiting scored five of the Lions’ last 10 points, including a go-ahead bank shot with 1:43 left, and UAPB completed a four-game homestand sweep with a 76-71 victory over Alabama State on Monday. It was UAPB’s largest margin of victory in the span.

“We’ve just got to work on holding onto leads because we can’t keep all of them that close,” said coach George Ivory, whose Lions led by as many as 17 points.

The win pulled UAPB (8-15, 6-5 SWAC) within two games of Alabama State (14-8, 8-3), which had won three straight and eight of the last 10 before Monday, in SWAC standings. UAPB went into the day tied for third place with Alabama A&M, Alcorn State, Prairie View A&M and Texas Southern.

The game was moved up to a late afternoon start to allow Alabama State to beat the bad weather on its way home. But it appeared at first UAPB didn’t respond to the earlier start.

Ivory made a line change after Marcel Mosley committed an in-and-out violation, and Brandon Graham made a leaning jumper to give the Hornets a 6-1 lead.

“I think we just fell asleep out there,” Hammond said, after he registered game highs of 22 points, six assists and four steals.

Then, UAPB’s second five — the energy lineup of Jordan Brown, Jaylon Floyd, Sean Tingle, Chandler Savage and Whiting — pulled the Lions out of the early hole with a 14-2 run. “We just started moving the ball around more and made shots,” said Whiting, who had nine points. “Our offense took over after our defense and we got more energized. We got stops, and it really helped us out.”

The starters checked back in at the 10:44 mark of the first half and rode the play of Hammond, who hit 4 of 6 field-goal attempts and had 13 points before the break, in building a 35-19 halftime lead.

UAPB closed the half with a 14-4 run. The only field goal for Bama State was a Maurice Strong one-hand jam as part of a three-point play with 7 seconds left. Three seconds later, Hammond converted a layup off a long pass.

The lead reached 38-21 before the Hornets stormed back to pull within 49-48 with 10:21 left, knocking down five three-point baskets during their rally. The Hornets took their first lead at 57-56 on a Strong layup and was ahead by as much as 61-58.

With 1:43 left, just 13 seconds after Bama State hit a pair of free throws to tie it at 66, Hammond lobbed to Whiting in the low block, and the sophomore from Des Arc kissed the go-ahead shot off the glass. Mosley hit a tough bank shot off a Ghiavonni Robinson steal, and Robinson returned the favor on a breakaway jam to make it 72-66 with 1:02 remaining.

Bama State made it a one-possession game with 4.8 seconds left when Graham finished a coast-to-coast jam and made the free throw, but Mosley put the game away with a pair of foul shots.

“I’m just really proud of the guys,” Ivory said. “We’ve just got to keep playing.”

Mosley had 12 points and three steals and Robinson finished with 10 points for the Lions. Davon Haynes was limited to two points, showing pain in his sixth game with a fractured right hand.

DeMarcus Robinson led the Hornets with 18 points, Jamel Waters added 17, Strong had 13 and Graham totaled nine points and eight rebounds.

UAPB shot 25 for 56 from the field (44.6 percent), including 7 for 14 from three-ball range, but made 19 of 30 free throws for 63.3 percent. Bama State was 22 for 49 from the floor (44.9 percent), including 7 for 16 from the perimeter, annd made 20 of 23 free throws (87 percent).

GOLDEN LION NOTES

UAPB’s bench, which was outscored 28-14 against Alabama A&M on Saturday, outscored Alabama State’s reserves 24-10. … Savage was assessed a technical foul with 12:52 left in the game for shoving a player on a dead ball. … Former UAPB football offensive lineman Terron Armstead was in attendance. … Attendance was 2,116, an expected low crowd due to the early start time. … . UAPB’s next games are at conference leader Southern on Saturday and Alcorn State on Monday. The Lions’ next home game is Feb. 22 against Prairie View A&M.