BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Grambling State erased a 14-point first-half deficit to defeat Jackson State 78-69 and clinched its first trip to the SWAC Tournament championship since 2011 Friday at Bartow Arena.
Grambling (24-8, 15-3 SWAC) encountered a challenge it had not faced since Dec. 19, the last time the Tigers fell behind by double digits against an opponent.
Jourdan Smith and Shawdarius Cowart led the GSU attack, both scoring 18 points apiece. Smith added eight rebounds, a steal, a block, and an assist to his total. Cowart grabbed three boards. Cameron Christon finished with 15 points, two rebounds, two steals, and an assist.
GSU shot 52.9% from the floor, going 27-of-51 and 6-of-15 from behind the arc. The Tigers also went 18-of-24 at the charity stripe (75.0%) and managed to hold Jackson State to 37.7% shooting (23-of-61).
Jackson State (14-19, 12-6 SWAC) took an early lead, building a 27-13 advantage midway through the first half. However, GSU responded with a 12-2 run, capped by a dunk from Cameron Christon, to reduce the deficit to four, 29-25, with 5:41 remaining in the half. Jackson State carried a narrow 36-34 lead into halftime.
The G-Men kept the pressure on Jackson State, taking their first lead of the game, 46-45, with 14:47 remaining.
A dunk by Jourdan Smith shifted momentum for Grambling State with 4:26 to play, increasing Grambling’s lead to 65-59. A Virshon Cotton bucket provided GSU a 69-59 advantage with 2:46 left in the game.
A three-point basket by Coltie Young helped Jackson State reduce the margin to five, 71-66, with only one minute to go, but GSU held on for the win.
Young led Jackson State with 18 points, three rebounds, an assist, and a steal.
Grambling State will face No. Texas Southern, the No. 8 seed, Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
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