Jags Earn SBC Tournament Spot with 81-76 Win over Arkansas State

March 6, 2015 · By · Filed Under Basketball, Men's, News, Sun Belt Conference 

SunBeltLogo_2013The Jaguar men’s basketball team controlled their own post-season destiny as they traveled to Jonesboro, AR. for their Thursday night game against Arkansas State and they held on down the stretch to earn their way in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.

The Jags (10-20, 8-11 SBC) saw a 24-point second-half lead slip away in the final minutes but thanks to sophomore Ken Williams leading a late charge, the Jags held on for the 81-76 win.

Over a span of 8:17, the Jags were outscored 29-7 including 15-2 at the end of the run to tie the game at 73-73 with under three minutes left in the game led by Anthony Livingston scoring six of the final 10 points of their run.

Williams answered back with on the next possession with a 3-pointer from the corner to break the tie. After a turnover, Williams added a layup to stretch the Jaguar lead to 78-73 with 2:11 remaining.

ASU (11-17, 6-13 SBC) connected from deep to pull within two with 1:13 left to play, but freshman Taishaun Johnson added a free throw with 38 seconds remaining to extend the lead to three points at 79-76.

Arkansas State’s three-point attempt missed and allowed Williams to grab the rebound. After being fouled, he sank both of his attempts to effectively ice the game.

Williams scored 12 of his 18 points after halftime. Johnson just missed a triple-double with 17 points, nine rebounds and a career-high seven assists. Senior Dionte Ferguson led the team with 20 points while freshman Abdul Lewis added 15 points.

“I can’t begin to say enough about how proud I am of this team and what they’ve accomplished,” South Alabama head coach Matthew Graves said after the game. “They hung tough and made some tough plays in those last couple of minutes to secure the victory.

“This team is starting to grow up. Certainly it’s been frustrating at times, but if you look at us a month or two months ago, we would not have won this game. There’s no question about that. We would have ended up getting beat by six or eight points down the stretch. This team has grown up and they are doing more things consistently. Obviously, we can continue to get better, but I’m really proud of our effort and to have one more home game for our two seniors. We need to be focused and ready to go on Saturday.”

The Jaguars return home to host Troy for their regular season finale on Senior Night. Jags and Trojans tip-off at 4:05PM at the Mitchell Center.

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