G-Men drop heartbreaker in SWAC opener

Courtesy of GSU Athletic Communications

Cameron Christon scored 11 of his team-high 21 points in the first half, but the Grambling State University men’s basketball team went the final 6:44 without a field goal as the Tigers dropped a heartbreaker, 61-60, to open Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) play to Prairie View A&M on Monday night at the William J. Nicks Baby Dome.

Grambling State (7-6 overall, 0-1 SWAC) led by as many as 15 points in the second half and went the final 6:44 without a field goal. Prairie View A&M (5-9, 1-0) survived the conference opener despite shooting 23.5 percent (4-of-17) from beyond the 3-point line.

Christon tossed in 21 points, in 11 from the free-throw line, to lead GSU. He added five rebounds and a pair of steals. Shawndarius Cowart recorded 10 points, four assists, three boards and one steal, while Virshon Cotton tallied 10 points, three assists, three boards and one steal.

Jeremiah Gambrell paced PVAMU with 15 points, six assists and four rebounds, while Will Douglas chipped in 15 points, three boards, two assists and two blocked shots. Yahuza Rasas registered a double-double of 13 points, 11 boards, along with two steals and one assist.

Prairie View A&M jumped out to a 13-9 advantage with1 2:32 left on a two-handed dunk by Rasas, but GSU closed the gap to 18-17 after a Cowart long jumper with exactly seven minutes remaining in the first half.

The Panthers led 21-19 with 5:10 left, but GSU got free throws by Christon, tying the game at 21 with 4:46 remaining.

GSU, which went more than four minutes without a bucket from the floor, saw its slim 22-21 lead disappear as Will Douglas drained a jumper and a 3-pointer with 1:49 remaining as the Panthers grabbed a 26-22 lead.

The Tigers closed the half strong with baskets by Jourdan Smith and Cowart, sending the game into the break tied at 26.

Grambling State opened the second half on a 8-2 run, capped by a free throw by Jonathan Aku with 16:46 remaining.

A Branden Bell jumper snapped a three-minute scoring draught for the Panthers as PVAMU cut the margin to 34-30 with 16:20 left.

The Tigers got a layup and back-to-back 3-pointers by Cotton, stretching the advantage to 42-30 with just over 15 minutes to play.

GSU led, 47-32, with 12:30 remaining, but the Tigers went cold from the floor, going more than four minutes without a field goal as Prairie View A&M climbed back into the game, cutting the double-digit deficit to 52-47 with just over seven minutes remaining.

The Tigers continued to struggle from the floor, going more than six minutes without a bucket, as the Panthers cut the deficit to 58-57 on a 3-pointer by Gambrell with 2:06 left and a layup by Nikkei Rutty gave PVAMU a 59-58 advantage with 1:39 to play.

Free throws by Cowart gave GSU a 60-59 lead with 1:13 left and the Tigers had chances to extend the margin, but could not knock down a shot from the floor.

Rasas played the hero for PVAMU, draining a short jumper in the lane with 17 seconds remaining and GSU had one final opportunity as Smith’s shot banged off the iron as Hegel Augustin grabbed the rebound to seal the victory.

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