Godfrey’s inside presence sparks Southern to win

HOUSTON — The Southern men’s basketball team knows what preseason SWAC player of the year Malcolm Miller can do from the outside.

The Jaguars are just starting to discover what Calvin Godfrey is capable of on the inside.

In crunch time against Texas Southern on Monday night, Godfrey was unstoppable under the basket, scoring 27 points and grabbing 10 rebounds to lead the Jaguars to a 79-71 win over TSU at the HP&E Arena.

The junior transfer made 13-of-19 shots, continually calling for the basketball the entire second half.

“I just felt like I couldn’t be denied tonight,” Godfrey said. “I wanted the ball in my hands. We’ve been preaching all week about coming into Texas and getting two wins. We got what we asked for.”

Malcolm Miller added 15 points and Trelun Banks had 10 points, as the Jaguars shot 50.7 percent and outscored the Tigers in the paint 50-34.

“It is very good win for this basketball team. I’m so happy for them, Southern coach Roman Banks said. “It’s real good to see them fight through this and get the win.”

Southern (6-9, 2-0 SWAC) led by as many as 13 in the first half, but TSU battled back to take a short-lived lead with five minutes left in the game.

The Jaguars outscored TSU 11-3 in the final four minutes, however, with Godfrey leading the charge.

“Basketball is a game of runs,” Godfrey said. “We hit them in the first half and they kind of hit us back, but we made sure we withstood that punch and then kept giving ours out.”

Godfrey worked hard inside, scoring at will down low. His 10 rebounds were also a game-high.

“Calvin is the heartbeat of this team,” Banks said. “He also is a guy that is still getting better as he learns. He is talented and he can be coached and that makes him a better kid.”

Texas Southern (5-9, 1-1 Southwestern Athletic Conference) was led by Aaric Murray, who scored 24 points, while Jose Rodriguez had 13.

TSU’s Madarious Gibbs drove to the basket and was fouled hard and could have tied the game just before halftime with two free throws, but Murray was called for a technical foul after the play.

Miller made one of two free throws and followed with a fast break lay-up and a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give SU a 44-39 halftime lead.

The Jaguars carried the momentum into the second half.

Miller got a steal and an assist that led to two Godfrey baskets. Banks added a jumper to continue the 6-0 run and put SU up 50-41. A Yondarius Johnson jumper gave SU its first double-digit lead of the second half at 56-45.

A Murray 3-pointer and a Rodriguez driving layup tied the game at 66 with 5:24 remaining, however. Rodriguez then hit two free throws to give TSU its first lead since the first half.

“We just knew we had to stay focused and not give up,” Miller said. “We just needed to stick with our offense and stand strong on defense.”

That’s when Godfrey took over. The 6-foot-9 forward took advantage of some mismatches inside to score four points and put SU back up 70-68.

“I think our team showed some character in pushing back after they made their run,” Banks said. “It took them a while to catch us and we still had one more run in us.”

A Miller 3 with 48 seconds left was the final nail in the coffin.

“When Calvin dominates, it frees me up,” Miller said. “With Calvin and Javan (Mitchell) down there, it really opens me up to make plays.”

Johnson was the only other Jaguar in double-figures with 11 points, while Christopher Hyder had a game-high nine assists.

“It’s early and you don’t want to get overly excited because you have a lot of basketball ahead of yourself,” Banks said. “We have a very tough Grambling team coming. I told the guys you enjoy this, but you can’t get overconfident. We need to still come to work every day and prepare.”