GREENWOOD, Miss. — The Southern men’s basketball team arrived here undefeated in Southwestern Athletic Conference play to meet a Mississippi Valley State team that was winless in the league.
Neither team looked the way it had coming in Wednesday night as the spirited Delta Devils built a 15-point halftime lead and made a series of big plays down the stretch to thwart a strong Jaguars comeback. MVSU prevailed 72-64 at the Leflore County Civic Center.
“My fear about this group is about whether they’re going to be consistent, whether they’re going to stay in the moment and focus on the next game,” Southern coach Roman Banks said. “When we came out I could feel we didn’t have our edge. I could feel it in warm-ups.”
The Jaguars fought back to tie the score, but stumbled down the stretch.
Calvin Godfrey scored 21 points, 17 in the second half, and Malcolm Miller had 18 for Southern (9-10, 5-1), which plays host to Alabama A&M on Saturday. Anthony McDonald scored 17 points and Julius Francis and Blake Ralling had 14 each for the Delta Devils (5-13, 1-4).
Southern trailed 46-31 at halftime and the second half didn’t start much better. Point guard Trelun Banks committed two quick fouls, giving him four as he went to the bench with 18:12 left.
The deficit reached 16 before the Jaguars started getting the ball to Godfrey near the basket with regularity. He took just three shots in the first half, but made three layups as SU got within 10.
After Ralling made a 3-pointer, Godfrey scored seven points and Miller had a steal and a dunk as the Jaguars closed to 53-49. They were down three when Godfrey when to the bench after committing his third foul midway through the half.
Miller’s 3-pointer and Damian Goodwin’s tip-in tied the score before DeAngelo Priar’s driving basket put the Devils back on top by two.
That was the difference when Banks and Godfrey returned with 6:18 left. Godfrey’s two free throws tied the score with 5:30 left, but then Southern had a series of miscues.
“Once we locked in I thought we could do it,” Miller said, “but we didn’t make enough plays at the end, too many mistakes, too many dumb plays.”
Cameron Monroe fouled McDonald on a 3-pointer and the subsequent free throw made it 64-60.
After a Jaguars turnover, the Devils missed three shots on one possession but kept getting the rebound and Jordan Washinton’s layup pushed the lead to six.
Godfrey’s free throw and a 3-pointer by Miller got Southern within two with less than two minutes left.
The Jaguars got a stop, but turned the ball over. Another offensive rebound prevented Southern from having another chance to tie.
Washington made two free throws, Miller missed a 3-pointer and MVSU put it away at the line.
The Devils got off to a fast shooting start and the Jaguars couldn’t slow them down the entire first half.
MVSU shot 60.7 percent from the floor and made 4-of-9 free throws in building a 46-31 halftime lead.
McDonald scored 11 and Francis and Ralling each scored 10.
Southern made just 41.9 percent of his shots and only Miller (10) points reached double figures.
He made 4-of-7 shots, including 2-of-4 3-pointers, but his teammates were a combined 9-of-24 and 2-of-7.
The disparity in shooting percentages contributed to the Devils having a 20-13 rebounding edge.