A stretch in the fourth quarter was the deciding factor as Southern was able to defeat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 62-53 to give the Jaguars its first conference title since 2019.
Southern controlled the first quarter, leading for all but 25 seconds, building as much as an eight points.
Despite its offensive struggles, the Golden Lions were able to stay close at 12-10 into the second quarter.
UAPB was able to bounce back in the second quarter, knocking down 50% of their field goal attempts in the frame, while also harassing Southern into shooting just 6 of 19 in the quarter.
Coriah’s Beck’s layup gave UAPB their first lead of the game at 26-24 with just 34 seconds left in the half — an advantage they would take into halftime.
The third quarter featured the score knotted early on at 27 apiece on Amani McWain’s 3-pointer. A Beck free throw put the Golden Lions back in front 28-27 at the 8:11 mark of the quarter. It was a lead they would hold until the first of a pair of Taylor Williams free throws would tie the game at 35-all. Demetria Shepherd’s three- point surge put Arkansas- Pine Bluff back in front 38-36, leading to a 41-38 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Although the Jaguars were able to tie the contest at 41 early in the quarter on a 3-pointer from Aleighyah Fontenot at the 9:11 mark, UAPB was able to recapture the lead at 43-41 on a pair of Tia Morgan free throws.
UAPB was able to stave off Southern until the Jaguars took the lead 49-47 when McWain connected from downtown with 5:54 left in the game.
A 3-pointer from Morgan would pull the Golden Lions to within 51-50 with 4:49 to go. Down the stretch, UAPB went 1 of 8 from the floor and 1 of 5 from the foul line. They also committed two turnovers and scored just three points.
Geneva Johnson led Southern with 18 points, adding 5 rebounds and 3 assists. McWain grabbed six rebounds to go along with her 15 points and Taylor Williams added 10 points of her own.
In a losing effort, Maori Davenport led the Golden Lions with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Beck and Maya Peat contributed 10 points each.
Up next for the Jaguars is their first NCAA Tournament trip since 2019. On Sunday afternoon they find out where they will land in the field of 68.