BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The 2019 Grambling State University men’s basketball season came to an end on Friday afternoon as the Tigers fell, 81-71, to top seed Prairie View A&M in the Toyota Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) men’s basketball tournament semifinals at Bill Harris Arena.
Prairie View A&M (21-12) advances to Saturday’s championship game and will meet the winner of the Alabama State-Texas Southern game. Grambling State concludes its season with a 17-16 overall record and its first back-to-back winning season since 2004-06.
Ivy Smith, Jr. led Grambling State with 21 points, including 10 from the free-throw line, along with seven assists, three rebounds and one steal. Axel Mpoyo added 16 points, a team-high nine boards, with one assist, while Anthony Gaston came off the bench to provide 10 points, two boards and one steal.
Devonte Patterson paced Prairie View A&M with 24 points, eight boards and one steal. Gary Blackston registered 18 points, five boards and two assists, while Darius Williams chipped in 16 points and seven rebounds. Dennis Jones tallied 11 points, four rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals.
How It Happened
With the score tied at 5 early, Prairie View A&M used a small 6-0 run to grab an 11-5 advantage after a layup by Devonte Patterson with 14:50 remaining in the first half. Grambling State continued to battle back and tied the game at 19 after a 3-pointer by Anthony Gaston with 7:55 left.
The Tigers grabbed their first lead of the day on a three-point play by Nigel Ribeiro with 2:40 left, giving Grambling State the 24-23 advantage.
Back came the Panthers as Prairie View A&M scored the next four points and took a 27-24 lead into the break.
Grambling State continued to keep the game close and cut the margin to 34-32 after a layup by Zavier Peart, but Prairie View A&M quickly answered with a free throw by Gary Blackston and a dunk by Iwin Ellis to extend the lead to 37-32 with 13:48 left.
The Tigers got buckets by Prince Moss and Ivy Smith, Jr. to tie the game at 42 with 10:46 remaining and a 3-pointer by Axel Mpoyo gave Grambling State a 45-42 advantage with just under 10 minutes to play. However, Prairie View A&M answered with an 8-0 run over the next two minutes to take a 50-45 advantage after a 3-pointer by Darius Williams with 8:09 left.
Grambling State cut the deficit to 56-4 after a layup by Peart, but a 3-pointer at the other end of the court gave the Panthers a 59-54 lead with 4:23 left.
Prairie View A&M stretched the advantage to 63-54 with a pair of free throws by Williams with 3:18 remaining. Grambling State cut the deficit to 67-62 after a Smith 3-pointer, but the Tigers could not recover from the big deficit as the Panthers moved on to Saturday’s title game.
With the game tied at 45 with 9:07 left, Prairie View A&M outscored Grambling State, 18-9, during a six-minute stretch and took a 63-54 lead with 3:18 left.
The Tigers closed the gap to 67-62 with 1:33 remaining after a Smith 3-pointer, but the margin was just too much to overcome during the final minute and a half.