The energy Arkansas-Pine Bluff played with was unmistakable.
Daniel Broughton was connecting from long range. Davon Haynes looked healthier than ever. Chandler Savage thrived in his first start with Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Yes, it was Senior Night for the three. And, boy, did they have some fun.
The trio combined for 45 points in leading UAPB to an 83-68 win over struggling Mississippi Valley State on Saturday night at H.O. Clemmons Arena. Junior Tevin Hammond added 20 points and Ghiavonni Robinson, the Itta Bena, Miss., freshman for the Lions, had nine points against his hometown team.
“We knew we had to come out with some energy for the last game,” said Haynes, who had a game-high 22 points. “Me, Daniel and Chan being seniors, we had to give the crowd a little something.”
It was the regular-season finale for both teams, who now have the upcoming SWAC tournament to look forward to after originally being banned from it for poor Academic Progress Rates. Both UAPB and Valley, along with Southern and Grambling State, still will not be allowed into the NCAA tournament even with a SWAC tourney title.
UAPB (13-17, 11-7 SWAC) has secured the fourth seed and will play fifth seed Alabama A&M (13-15, 10-8) at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in a quarterfinal at the Toyota Center in Houston. Valley (9-22, 5-13) will go in as the ninth seed and will take on Prairie View (8-22, 6-12) at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday for the right to move on to the quarterfinal.
“We plan on getting that ring,” Haynes said. “It’s a ring or nothing. That’s what it is.”
Broughton, a Watson Chapel graduate and starting center, canned his first four three-point baskets, and the Golden Lions went into halftime with a 42-33 halftime lead. He missed his next four tries from outside, but still finished with 14 points and six rebounds, making 5 of 10 overall from the floor.
“I came out ready to shoot,” Broughton said. “I’ve been knocking them down all season, so I just shoot the ball when I’m open.”
Pine Bluff High alumnus Savage, the Lions’ usual sixth man, had five points and nine boards.
The jury is still out, however, on whether Savage and Haynes will get one more collegiate season because they did not compete four full years. But Savage gave the home crowd a lasting image, taking a long pass from Tevin Hammond and throwing down a one-handed tomahawk slam with 1:16 left to make it a 73-59 game.
That was one of three dunks in a 24-second span. Jaylon Floyd also broke away from a two-hander, and Haynes flushed an alley-oop from Hammond.
Haynes exited the game with 42.6 seconds left, kissing the Lions logo at midcourt and waving both hands in the air to a rare standing ovation in Clemmons Arena.
“I think the guys were very excited about tonight,” UAPB coach George Ivory said. “They showed it with the way they played the game. They really got after it, and it really showed at the end of the ballgame.”
This was Valley’s first game without Chico Potts, who was reassigned from his head coaching duties Friday morning, according to a team spokesperson. Valley has lost eight of nine after a three-game winning streak.
“The attitude is light,” Delta Devils interim coach Marcus Thomas said. “They know we still have a mission to complete. I think we’ll be successful at it.”
The Lions’ energy allowed them to keep up with a fast pace the Delta Devils forced on them. The home team responded, making 28 of 57 from the field for 49.1 percent.
UAPB might have been feeling too good, however. Hammond and Haynes each were assessed technical fouls for jawing in the first half. Broughton, who had worked on staying out of foul trouble much of his collegiate career, fouled out with 1:26 left.
GOLDEN LION NOTES
The Lions finished 6-3 at home. … UAPB has won both regular-season meetings against Valley. Robinson went scoreless in a January victory in Greenwood, Miss. … UAPB played its second game without junior guard Marcel Mosley, who is doubtful for the rest of the season with a broken jaw in three places. … Valley never led in the game, but its bench outscored UAPB’s 26-9. … Attendance was 4,337.