HOUSTON, TX. — The Tigers went on a key 21-9 run over a five-and-a half minute span during the second half to gain an arm’s length lead before holding off the Panthers in the late night men’s semifinal at Delmar Fieldhouse.
The Tigers (14-19) advance to play top-seeded Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the SWAC Championship at Delmar Fieldhouse in Houston on Saturday at 4 p.m. Texas Southern will be seeking their fourth SWAC Tournament championship in the past five seasons.
TSU threw a balanced scoring attack at the Panthers as Donte Clark led the charge with 22 points, five rebounds and five assists before fouling off late in the game. Derrick Bruce scored 18 points to go with five rebounds and three assists.
Demontrae Jefferson scored 15 points and handed out six assists while Lamont Walker came off the bench and did not miss a shot, making all four from the field, including a trio of 3-pointers and two free throws to finish with 13 points.
The game-altering run was sparked by a Bruce 3-pointer and lay up and followed with a jumper and a pair of free throws by Clark. The Tigers continued their push with on a 3-pointer from Walker to make it a 60-51 lead with 10:45 remaining in the second half.
Texas Southern avenged the two regular season losses in head-to-head match ups with the Panthers.
After the Panthers’ Gary Blackston connected on a 3-pointer, Walker answered back with another 3-pointer.
A Trayvon Reed dunk, two free throws from Walker and driving lay in from Bruce made it 69-55 with 8:02 left.
The Panthers (16-18) kept it close behind a sterling effort by Blackston, who shot 11-of-22 from the floor to score 32 points and also snared eight rebounds. J.D. Wallace contributed with a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. He added two steals and two blocks.
Texas Southern shot 48 percent from the floor including a sizzling 67 percent after the break (18-of-27) while Prairie View A&M was at 39 percent for the game.