BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Overcoming a 13-point deficit early on, Prairie View A&M (22-12) topped Texas Southern (21-13) in a thrilling 92-86 contest to win the 2019 Toyota SWAC Basketball Tournament.
The win takes Coach Byron Smith and the Panthers to March Madness for the first time since 1998.
With Tyrik Armstrong having the hot hand early, Texas Southern rushed to a 13-4 advantage over the top-seeded Panthers.
The Tigers built a 20-7 lead following a Trayvon Reed dunk with a little over 13 minutes left, but Prairie View A&M fought back with an overwhelming 19-4 barrage over the next six minutes to take a 26-24 lead.
The cross-town rivals traded points until the Panthers pushed the pace late, with 2019 Toyota SWAC Basketball Tournament Most Valuable Player Gary Blackston converting consecutive buckets to give PVAMU a 41-35 lead. The Panthers kept the advantage the rest of the frame.
In the second half, it was Prairie View A&M that got off to the hot start, as a sudden 6-0 run pushed its lead to 51-41. Jalyn Patterson then got going for Texas Southern, cutting the Panthers’ lead down with a trio of layups. Eden Ewing and Combs each followed with scores on the inside as the Tigers tied the game.
Antione Lister buried back-to-back threes to put PVAMU back in front, but Patterson responded with a three-pointer to bring TSU within one, and Devocio Butler converted a three-point play to put the Tigers ahead 63-62.
After PVAMU reclaimed the lead with a Taishaun Johnson basket, both sides traded points. With the contest tied at 81 with 2:35 left, Dennis Jones converted a driving layup with 2:00 left to put PVAMU ahead 83-81. Patterson knotted it back up with 1:25 left, and Darius Williams sank a pair of free throws to put the Panthers up 85-83 with 1:12 remaining.
Reed tapped home a Patterson miss to tie the game with 36 seconds left, and PVAMU’s Devonte Patterson sank a pair of free throws to put the Panthers up 87-85 with 26 seconds to go, and Jones sealed the championship for Prairie View A&M with clutch shooting from the line the rest of the way.
Blackston led PVAMU with 17 points, six steals and four rebounds. Jones added 17 points and three steals.
J. Patterson paced Texas Southern with 24 points and five assists. Combs scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.