Texas Southern holds off Grambling to clinch automatic berth
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — PJ Henry scored 19 points and Texas Southern denied Grambling its first NCAA Tournament berth with a 61-58 win on Saturday in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament championship game.
John Walker III scored 14 points and Davon Barnes 13 for Texas Southern (14-20) which clinched its third straight SWAC postseason conference tournament and became the first SWAC eighth seed to win the tournament.
Reserve Zahad Munford scored 12 points for Grambling (24-9), Jonathan Aku scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Tramichael Morton scored 10.
Henry started 1-for-13 shooting before going on a 4-for-4 stretch — which included three 3-pointers — to help put an end to Grambling’s rally. His 3 with 6:08 left broke a 43-all tie and Texas Southern led for the remainder. Grambling needed a 14-3 run to forge the tie.
Grambling played catchup all day and didn’t score a field goal until a little more than 6 1/2 minutes in when Cameron Christon reduced the deficit to 13-4.
Texas Southern finished the regular season with three straight losses before ending the skid with an opening-round win over top-seeded Alcorn State, then beat No. 5-seed Alabama A&M in the semis. Grambling was the No. 2 seed. It was Texas Southern’s eighth trip to the SWAC championship game in the last nine years.
The loss was a disappointing end for Grambling which set a season program record in wins and entered with an 11-game win streak.
The Tigers went 2-1 against Power 5 opposition, including a 64-62 win at Vanderbilt which lost in the SEC tournament semifinals earlier in the day.
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