It had been two years and two days since a Southwestern Athletic Conference opponent had beaten the Southern men’s basketball team in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
But Arkansas-Pine Bluff did just that Saturday night, beating the Jaguars 64-58 and ending their 16-game win home win streak against conference opponents. It was the first such loss since Mississippi Valley State beat Southern on its home-court 58-53 on Feb. 13, 2012.
Oddly enough, the only other SWAC home loss in Jaguars coach Roman Banks’ three seasons came two days before that and by the same score as Saturday’s game.
“They’re confident because they’ve come in here and had success before,” Banks said. “They’re one of the few teams that has.”
Banks’ home record against SWAC teams fell to 21-3, but more importantly this year’s team fell to 14-11 and 10-2, though it remains in first place going into its home game against Mississippi Valley State on Monday. The Golden Lions, who lost to the Jaguars 60-56 on Jan. 18 in Pine Bluff, Ark., are 10-15 and 7-5.
“I knew this team brings energy,” Banks said. “When they matched us right out of the gate I knew we were in a fight because Pine Bluff plays to the end and they were really good tonight.”
Southern was playing its first game since it became public knowledge Thursday that the Jaguars programs are operating under an NCAA-imposed post-season ban, pending the university’s ability to furnish complete and accurate paperwork that documents student-athletes’ academic performances over the last several years.
Banks said what was most bothersome to him Saturday was that the players seemed to let that situation and Internet chatter about it detract from their effort.
“We let something we can’t control affect us,” he said.
Banks didn’t allow any players to be interviewed after the game, allowing them to focus on getting ready for Monday’s game.
“We were just as flat as could be,” Banks said. “We just played lifeless with no intensity.”
Southern shot just 36 percent from the floor, including 29.6 percent in the second half, and it made just 6-of-21 3-pointers (28.6 percent). Malcolm Miller had a team-high 11 points and Trelun Banks and Yondarius Johnson had 10 each. Calvin Godfrey had eight points and nine rebounds but didn’t return to the game after committing his fourth foul with 8:15 left.
“Tonight was a tough night for him,” Banks said. “He wasn’t playing as well. He got his fourth foul and I didn’t think he was in any type of rhythm. I can’ expect him to be Superman every night.
“He’s been playing well, but tonight just wasn’t his night. We needed somebody else to pick up the slack and obviously we didn’t do a good job of that.”
The Jaguars also couldn’t find a way to slow down UAPB guard Marcel Mosley, who had 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting. Tevin Hammond scored 15 points.
“(Mosley) seemed like he was unstoppable today,” Banks said. “Our defense is usually better than that. We knew he liked to penetrate in there. He kind of did what we wanted him to do, but he was finishing and that wasn’t what we wanted him to do.”
Mosley’s 3-pointer with eight seconds left in the first half gave the Lions a 31-28 halftime lead and he seemed to carry that momentum into the start of the second half.
A technical foul on Hammond for slamming the ball on to the court in protest of a foul call gave Southern a brief boost. Miller made both free throws and that started a run that ended with a four-point play by Johnson and a driving basket by Tre Lynch that cut the lead to 58-55 with two minutes left.
But Mosley penetrated and made a soft jumper from the lane for a five-point lead with 1:38 left.
Miller missed a 3-pointer, but Mosley missed two free throws. Lynch’s 3-pointer went in and out, but the Lions committed a shot-clock violation, giving the Jaguars the ball with 32 seconds left, down by five, but Trelun Banks missed a 3-pointer. Mosley made four straight free throws to finish it.
“It all starts with energy and focus and we just did not have much of that tonight,” coach Banks said. “We never did put together a serious run. Our defense usually holds on at the other end, but today it didn’t.”