After trailing by as many as 19 points, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Lions strung together a 60-58 comeback win over the Jackson State University Tigers Monday night.
UAPB junior guard Martaveous McKnight has been highlighted for his heroic play throughout Southwestern Conference play, and once again he came through in the clutch. In the waning seconds of the game and on the last offensive possession for UAPB, McKnight drove the baseline and connected on the go-ahead bucket, sending the home crowd in a frenzy.
Jackson State came to play, and they made it hard on UAPB's primary scorers for the most part. McKnight was held scoreless until the five minute mark in the second half. UAPB freshman forward Terrance Banyard had a big game, scoring 16 points and grabbing four rebounds.
"Terrance is a freshman, and he's been playing very well for us. He's a tremendous rebounder, and we didn't hesitate putting him back in,” UAPB Head Coach George Ivory said.
Ivory decided to sit Trent Steen for a majority of the second half as Banyard seemed to be the only one of the big guys who could match up with the size of Jackson State.
The Tigers’ frontcourt was made up of junior Darius Austin and senior Treshawn Bolden,who both are 6'8, 230 pounds-plus. With that size they brought agility, and early on they caused problems for UAPB on defense.
It became obvious that the Tigers’ objective was to look to score inside and crash the boards for offensive rebounds. The Golden Lions got off to another slow start on offense for the second game in a row, and the Tigers took advantage.
To combat the size of Jackson, Ivory briefly went to a 2-3 zone. However, that's when the Tigers got hot from downtown. Jackson State guards Chace Franklin and Julian Daughtry were perfect from long distance in the first half, and as a team they made 7-11.
UAPB didn't shoot bad from deep, going 4-8 in the first half, but from the field they shot 34 percent compared to Jackson's 57 percent.
The inside-out game was working for the Tigers, and they opened up a 26-12 lead at the under eight media timeout. To close the half, Ivory inserted sophomore guard Jordan McNair, whobrought energy off of the bench.
At halftime, Jackson State led 39-24, and the biggest discrepancy on the stat sheet was the Tigers outrebounding UAPB 20-10.
Darius Austin continued to use his frame to hurt the Golden Lions down low to begin the second half. UAPB senior guard Charles Jackson hit one of his three timely three's right before the first media timeout in the second half to bring UAPB within 12. That's when Austin hit two more threes on back-to-back possessions.
Trailing 52-33, the Golden Lions never hung their heads, and Terrance Banyard began to use his length and quickness in the post as the big men for Jackson showed fatigue. McNair hit a slashing Travon Harper for a transition slam that gave the Golden Lions life.
After the under eight media timeout in the second half, UAPB outscored Jackson State 23-5, primarily due to the defensive pressure applied by the Golden Lions.
"One thing we wanted to do was get those guys who had worked pretty good this week on defense in there," Ivory said. "We wanted to give them an opportunity to pick the pace. They did a good job of changing the game."
Down the stretch, it became the McKnight and Banyard show; the two made play after play to take the wind out of the sails of Jackson State. UAPB junior point guard Quamauri Hardy was composed in crunch time, connecting on a lay up to pull UAPB within one point. Jackson State left a couple points at the charity stripe, and the rowdy Golden Lions fans played their part in making it an electric environment.
After a missed free throw, Banyard rose up for a slam that tied the score at 58. After the Golden Lions forced a bad shot and got the stop they needed on defense, they put the ball in McKnight’s hands to do the rest.
McKnight took his man off the dribble, got a pick and drove left baseline, putting up the game-winning shot.
The Golden Lions now look to protect their home court and stay atop of the SWAC men's basketball standings.
"We showed a lot of determination and we weren't going to quit," Ivory said. "When our first group isn't doing as well we can go to our bench. We need guys to be there when things get tight."