Marcel Mosley started with the hot hand. The Arkansas-Pine Bluff bench came alive. Grambling State stormed back from a 14-point deficit. And Tevin Hammond made crucial stops.
Hammond came up with two key steals in the final 14 seconds, scoring the go-ahead basket off the first, and UAPB ended a five-game losing streak Saturday with a 66-64 victory over a Grambling team that has now lost 12 straight games.
“This has taken the monkey off our back,” said Hammond, the junior from Little Rock who had totaled five steals and seven assists to go with a team-high 16 points.
Coming out of a timeout, Hammond stole the ball from Remond Brown in the left wing and made a fast break to the basket. Brown goaltended the shot with 8.8 seconds left to give the Golden Lions (5-15, 3-5 SWAC) the two-point lead.
“I had seen that he was trying to make a play driving, so I just tried to make the quickest play on the ball,” Hammond said.
Hammond then made a swipe on the right wing and called timeout with 2.4 seconds left. Mosley was fouled on the inbounds pass and missed the bonus shot, but a desperation heave off the rebound was no good at the buzzer.
With the help of first-year UAPB players Sean Tingle and Jordan Brown, the Golden Lions’ reserves scored more points during a 20-0 run than they had in any of the past seven games. UAPB scored 12 unanswered before halftime — including a pair of alley-oop finishes by Brown — to take a 37-31 lead into the locker room.
“They stepped up tonight, and that’s what we expect out of our bench,” UAPB coach George Ivory said. “I thought Jordan Brown and Sean Tingle had been practicing really well this week.”
In their previous outing, a 72-71 loss at Texas Southern on Monday, the Lions’ bench went scoreless. And as Grambling State built a 30-22 lead, Ivory was looking for more scoring help.
Tingle, a junior transfer center from Vance, Ala., scored six of his eight points in the final 3:10 of the half. Then Brown, a freshman walk-on guard from Augusta, moved the Lions into a 33-31 lead with a finish off a lob from Marcel Mosley. He completed an alley from Hammond the next time down the floor to keep the run going.
UAPB finished with 14 bench points, four more than Grambling.
“We really needed the bench,” Hammond said. “The last game, the bench didn’t score any points. We couldn’t stress it enough that we needed help on the bench if we were going to win ballgames. Jordan Brown and Sean Tingle came off the bench and played extremely well.”
The Tigers (1-16, 0-8), trailing 45-31, ended the 9 1/2-minute field goal drought with a Terry Rose three-point basket. That sparked a comeback that saw them take a 60-59 lead with 2:58 left, and Rose had 15 of his 19 points in the half to lead the surge.
Ghiavonni Robinson, who had six points, nailed a big trey at the 1:47 mark to tie it at 62. Grambling worked the ball to Steven Danridge in the low post to break the tie 35 seconds later, then Hammond converted a pair of free throws to knot it again with 39.8 ticks left. Grambling melted the clock down to 13.8 seconds before calling timeout.
Mosley had the hot hand for the Lions early on, hitting 5 of 6 from the floor for 10 first-half points. He finished 6 for 9 and had 12 points and six assists.
Davon Haynes added 10 points for UAPB. For Grambling, A’Torri “A.J.” Shine had 12 points and Antwan Scott added 11.
The Tigers, who were winless in 28 games last season, lost by two points or fewer for the third time in four games. Their only victory under second-year coach Joseph Price came at home against Conway’s Central Baptist of the NAIA, 83-75, on Dec. 16.
Hammond’s last-minute free throws were crucial for a Lions team that went 13 for 23 (56.5 percent) at the line, but the Tigers didn’t help their cause by going 14 for 24 (58.3 percent). UAPB hit 26 of 47 (55.3 percent) from the field, but was 1 for 12 from behind the three-point line. Grambling made 22 of 49 field goals (44.9 percent), including 6 of 21 from behind the arc.
GOLDEN LION NOTES: Former UAPB guard Kyle Jones, who graduated after last season, is a graduate assistant at Grambling State. Jones hails from Shreveport. … Jordan Brown’s two alley-oops were among five in the game. Haynes also finished one, and Remond Brown threw down a pair. … UAPB was whistled for 12 first-half fouls, falling into the double penalty at the 5:38 mark. UAPB had 18 fouls to Grambling’s 17 for the game. … Each team had 28 rebounds. … Attendance was 4,287.