The Jaguars came into Saturday night’s game against the Prairie View Panthers with the intentions of not only closing out their regular season with a victory, but also securing the second seed in this year’s SWAC Tournament. After winning their last six games in the SWAC, the Jags carried that intensity over to the court as they competed with the Panthers from tip-off.
The first half saw slow pace and stout defense from both sides as the score stayed relatively close throughout the opening minutes of the game. The biggest lead of the night belonged to the Jaguars, as they led Prairie View 31-20 with less than three minutes left in the half, however Prairie View would respond quickly as they managed to shave the SU lead down to two points as the game went into the halftime with Southern sporting a 33-31 lead.
The second half started off with much of the same with both teams competing on the defensive side of the ball and making baskets hard to come by for each other. As a result of this, the second half also saw its fair share of free throws as both teams increased their aggressiveness in the paint.
Despite maintaining their lead for most of the game, the Jags would surrender their lead with around twenty seven seconds left in the game as Prairie View took it, 72-70. The Jags would respond on their next possession, which was capped off by two free throws from Ashante Shivers to send the game to overtime. Shivers led both teams in scoring with 22 points on 6-12 from the field in 36 minutes of play.
Overtime for the Jags saw the team get back to the defensive mindset that they displayed in the first half of the game. Shivers continued shooting with accuracy from the freethrow line to secure a Jaguar victory. Southern defeated top-ranked Prairie View by a score of 89-80 to bring their home record to 11-1 on the season.
“That’s the best team in the league, and I thought we were in control of the game,” Coach Sean Woods said. “Even when it went into overtime, I never doubted we would win. I didn’t think they could score at the same pace we could.”
After the game, Woods spoke to the satisfaction the team felt in avenging their loss against the same Panthers team that defeated them handling earlier in the season. “This shows how far we’ve come,” Woods said after the Jaguars avenged their 64-54 loss on Jan. 6 at Prairie View. “We’ve been ahead in games by 20, 24, 18 points, and we couldn’t get it right. Now we know how to win.”
The second-seed Jags will face the seventh-seed Alabama State at home in Tuesday’s first-round match of the SWAC Tournament.