HOUSTON — University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff head men's basketball coach George Ivory knew it was just a matter of time before junior guard Martaveous McKnight would come up big for the Golden Lions.
"We knew he would come through for us," Ivory said after the Golden Lions' dramatic 74-72 victory Monday night at the HP&E Arena in Houston. "He's played so hard for two weeks."
With the Golden Lions trailing by three points with 2.8 seconds remaining, McKnight hit a 3-pointer, got fouled and fell to the floor.
Before McKnight could step to the free throw line, Texas Southern head coach Mike Davis argued the foul call, drawing a technical foul.
Ivory said his heart dropped "a little bit" after McKnight missed the first free throw, but he was still confident in the 6-foot-3 guard, who calmly converted the next two for a 74-72 lead.
As soon as Texas Southern senior Lamont Walker's desperation shot bounced off the rim, the first place Golden Lions (7-14, 7-0) extended their winning streak to seven games. They snapped three-time defending Southwestern Athletic Conference champion Texas Southern's 26-game home conference winning streak.
UAPB also won at TSU (4-17, 5-3) for the first time this decade, after losing four games at TSU by six points or less since 2011.
McKnight, who scored a career-high 39 points in a 72-66 victory at Prairie View A&M on Saturday, managed just one point (0-for-5 from the field) in the first half.
The Golden Lions led 32-28, thanks to junior guard Charles Jackson's 20 points. Jackson finished the game with 25 points.
McKnight went 3-for-15 from the field. He made a 3-point play that pulled the Golden Lions to within one (70-69) with 2:05 remaining, but he missed a potential go-ahead shot with 35 seconds remaining.
What made the comeback even more impressive was the fact that senior forwards Trent Steen (14 points and nine rebounds) and Travon Harper (eight points and four rebounds) both fouled out with less than three minutes remaining in the game.
UAPB stretched its lead to 49-41 in the second half, but TSU — behind an energetic crowd of 2,278 fans — came back to take the lead. Junior guard Derrick Bruce scored 25 points, and senior Donte Clark — a graduate transfer from UMass — had 21 points.
The Golden Lions received a boost off the bench from freshman Terrance Banyard (six points and three rebounds).
UAPB outshot TSU, 41.7 percent to 36.8 percent, but they were out rebounded 45-29. TSU outscored the Golden Lions 22-2 on second chance points — something Ivory will likely address in practice.
UAPB's performance at the charity stripe was a big factor in the victory. They went 16-for-20, while TSU went 20-for-39.
The Golden Lions return to Pine Bluff with a four-game homestand, starting with Grambling State at 8 p.m. Saturday. UAPB will play six of the next eight games at home, and will host Texas Southern on Feb. 19.
The teams could also meet again in the SWAC Tournament, March 6-10 at the Delmar Center in Houston.