Inclement weather caused the Pine Bluff Zebras' first conference game to be cancelled, so instead, the Zebras opened their conference slate in Little Rock against the McClellan Lions on Tuesday night. Pine Bluff Head Coach Billy Dixon and his Zebras took a five-game winning streak into the home of the Lions.
The Zebras were able to add another win to their streak after pulling out a close victory over McClellan by a final of 65-56.
Delvonte Dilworth worked his way into the starting lineup and provided instant offense for Pine Bluff. On the other hand, the Lions were able to get a couple easy inside buckets to get themselves going early on. DeQuan Morris played big on the inside for Pine Bluff, using his leaping ability to his advantage. For McClellan, Howard Sanders was able to establish himself down low, as he did work on the offensive glass.
Shooting was the biggest difference in the first, as the Zebras simply knocked down more shots than the Lions. Pine Bluff got a nice contribution from their bench players, and their depth was on display. For McClellan, Sanders provided a threat; his physicality in the post kept the Lions in the game. Pine Bluff took a seven-point lead into the second quarter, but the Lions were gaining confidence.
Jamarius Campbell opened the second quarter with the hot hand for the Lions, leading them to a 9-0 run that tied the game at 21-21. The Zebras committed three consecutive turnovers during that span that were costly. With 4:17 left to play in the first half, McClellan took their first lead of the game as the Zebras went cold.
Morris helped the Zebras end a scoring drought, as he was in attack mode down low. However, Sanders continued to be an issue for the Zebras; he was able to get easy baskets from the block. Kendrick Thorne finished the first half strong for Pine Bluff, getting in the lane for a couple lay ups. The Zebras' effort on the offensive glass allowed them extra shot opportunities. To end the second quarter, the Lions converted on a buzzer beater to make it a one-point game heading into halftime as Pine Bluff led 30-29.
Thorne opened up the second half where he left off, providing the Zebras with offense. However Lion Sean Cohns made a nice play in transition to keep it a one possession game. After a couple steals, the Zebras built a five-point lead, forcing Threatt to talk it over with his group.
DeQuan Morris put his leaping ability on display with three minutes to play in third, as he rose up for a two-hand slam. However, with two minutes in the third, it was still a one possession game. Pine Bluff gave up a few transition lay ups that kept the Lions close. In the last minute of the third, the Zebras' defense would stiffen,melding to run out opportunities. Behind a corner three from Caleb Parker, and another break away dunk for Morris, the Zebras built a nine-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Parker began the fourth quarter with another three that gave Pine Bluff a double digit lead, forcing Threatt to call for a timeout. Parker's senior leadership and experience was huge for the Zebras on the road in a tough environment. After the timeout, Pine Bluff didn't let up on the defensive end, and they made the Lions uncomfortable.
With five minutes left in the game, Dixon decided to go with a conservative attack in attempts to milk time off of the clock. On the other hand, the Lions were still at full speed and were able to cut Pine Bluff's lead down to ten with 4:27 left to play. The Lions got within five points of the lead, but that's as close as they would get down the stretch.
Pine Bluff put the game away at the free throw line after Brandon Little knocked down a couple. Morris was the games leading scorer with 22 points.