The Las Vegas Continental Tires Classic campus event held at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock over the weekend was a dandy for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Lions.
A four-team field made up of UAPB, Little Rock, California Baptist and Howard played two games over a two-day span. The winners and losers of the first pair of games that were played on Friday faced off on Saturday.
UAPB came out of the classic as champions with wins over California Baptist and an in-state opponent, the Little Rock Trojans. It took three overtime periods to decide Friday’s game between UAPB and California Baptist, and the Golden Lions ultimately came out victorious 115-107.
UAPB Head Coach George Ivory said he knew that California Baptist, coming out of the West Athletic Conference (WAC), would be a tough test as they’ve beaten Oral Roberts and fell by three to Tulsa earlier this season.
However, the Golden Lions proved that they can play with upper echelon competition.
“One thing about it, Cal. Baptist is a pretty good basketball team in the WAC conference,” Ivory said.
“When they beat Oral Roberts we figured they had a pretty good basketball team. We knew we were in for a good game and I thought it was a good win for us against a good quality basketball team.”
All-SWAC preseason player of the year Martaveous McKnight played 52 minutes against Cal. Baptist to score a game-high 40 points to lead the Golden Lions in that win. The resurgence of senior Charles Jackson was huge for the Golden Lions as he scored 27 points off the bench against Cal. Baptist.
Terrance Banyard recorded a double-double with 12 points and 22 rebounds. Sophomore junior college transfer Shaun Doss poured in 15 points in 50 minutes.
“We knew McKnight was going to have a good game,” Ivory said. “We had to get Charles Jackson going. The first few games he didn’t have good outings. With him going, and Shaun Doss stepping up, it’s helped out a lot. We’re going inside more, too.”
Little Rock beat Howard, so that made for an in-state clash between the Golden Lions and the Trojans. The fact that UAPB had a shot at Little Rock was an added incentive in itself, according to Ivory. It didn’t take overtime to decide the second game for UAPB as they were led by Jackson’s 21 points and McKnight’s 20 points.
Doss was right behind those two with 18 points of his own. The Trojans shot a dismal 4-19 from behind the arc compared to UAPB knocking down 10-28 of their three point attempts.
Other than his team pulling out a win over Little Rock to take the championship, Ivory was most pleased with the UAPB fan support that they received.
“Anytime you can beat an in-state team like Little Rock it makes the guys feel good,” Ivory said.
“They’ve worked hard. Little Rock is a great program, and they have a great coach. It’ll help us a lot and, of course, the guys were looking forward to the match with them being right down the road. Our fans helped us a lot, and for the guys seeing them there, they knew they had the support. It was an added momentum for us. We’re trying to make this program reach greater heights.”
UAPB brought home the Las Vegas Continental Tires Classic campus event trophy, McKnight won MVP honors for the tournament, and Jackson was named first-team all tourney. The Golden Lions can’t dwell on their weekend as they’re in Cincinnati, Ohio, to take on the Cincinnati Bearcats tonight.
Tipoff is set for 6 p.m., and according to Ivory, the guys will be prepared and ready to compete. “It’s a quick turnaround,” Ivory said. “We’ll face another great coach and a team that’s usually top 25. It’ll be another challenge, another measuring stick.”