Houston Chronicle

Panthers claim seventh in a row

Mack, Daniels, Roberts lead way as SWAC leaders hold off Tigers

- By Richard Dean

Prairie View 77

Texas Southern 75

PRAIRIE VIEW (8-4) Henry 4-7 1-4 9, Cox 3-4 0-0 6, Daniels 7-11 0-0 17, Gambrell 3-5 2-4 10, Mack 5-18 0-0 13, Wiliams 5-10 0-2 10, Roberts 3-6 1-4 10, Briscoe 1-3 0-0 2, Nguidjol 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 31-65 4-14 77. TEXAS SOUTHERN (7-8) Alexander 5-10 7-11 19, Nicholas 3-5 2-5 8, Walker 4-5 4-5 12, Gilliam 0-3 0-0 0, Weathers 5-13 9-10 20, Hopkins 6-9 0-114, Rasas 1-3 0-0 2, Jones 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 24-50 22-32 75.

Halftime: Prairie View 40-36. 3-Point Goals:

Prairie View 11-27 (Daniels 3-5, Roberts 3-6, Mack 3-8, Gambrell 2-4, Cox 0-1, Henry 0-1, Nguidjol 0-1, Wiliams 0-1), Texas Southern 5-12 (Alexander 2-2, Hopkins 2-3, Weathers 1-4, Jones 0-1, Gilliam 0-2).

Fouled Out: Cox, Wiliams, Roberts, Weathers. Rebounds: Prairie View 26 (Daniels, Mack 5), Texas Southern 31 (Nicholas 9). Assists: Prairie View 17 (Mack, Roberts 6), Texas Southern 14 (Nicholas, Weathers 3). Total Fouls: Prairie View 23, Texas Southern 16.

Prairie View A&M was playing its first game in 20 days. Texas Southern was three days removed from completing a seven-day trip by bus. Both were riding lengthy winning streaks.

There was plenty at stake Sunday at the H&PE Arena, as there usually is when these two elite SWAC programs face off.

But it’s Prairie View’s streak that remains intact. Barely.

Not showing all that much rust from the inactivity, the visiting Panthers escaped with a 77-75 victory over the Tigers to remain unbeaten in conference play and hold on to first place while sweeping the season series.

“All of them are big at this stage of the season,” said fifth-year Panthers coach Byron Smith, who won at TSU for the first time as a head coach and has directed the Panthers to the SWAC regular-season title in each of the past two seasons. “It’s been a nice run, and hopefully, we’ve got more good things coming our way.”

The Panthers’ seventh straight win didn’t come easy, even though the Panthers led most of the contest and by as many as 12 points during the second half.

They lost the lead late but went back in front for good at 76-74 on a 3-pointer with 1:32 remaining by Cam Mack, the last of his 13 points.

TSU kept chipping away at the deficit.

“They always do,” Smith said. “Every year since I’ve been the head coach, the game is pretty much that way. We always get out to a good lead; they never go away.

“That’s a tribute to their head coach, Johnny Jones. They have a lot of fight in them. They just stay the course and hang in there and make plays to keep them in it.”

It took almost everything the Panthers had to hold off the Tigers. Mack played a complete game. The point guard, who came in leading the NCAA in assists at more than eight per game, dished out six and had three of PV’s 14 steals.

The Panthers (8-4, 7-0 SWAC) also received strong performanc­es from Jawaun Daniels (17 points) and D’Rell Roberts (10 points, six assists).

Faite Williams returned from an injury and added 10 points before fouling out. Lenell Henry was a stalwart on defense.

“We recruited this year for depth,” Smith said. “In the past, we didn’t really have that. We got guys that can step up and get 15 or 20 points.”

Prairie View did not win on the foul line, making only four of 14 free-throw attempts. Michael Weathers, Galen Alexander, Karl Nicholas and Justin Hopkins delivered for TSU (7-8, 4-3), which had its fivegame winning streak halted. Weathers had a wellrounde­d game with 20 points, six rebounds, three assists, four of the Tigers’ 10 steals, and three of the team’s nine blocks.

Alexander collected 19 points and six rebounds. Nicholas finished the night with nine rebounds and eight points.

With 2:51 left, two free throws by Nicholas tied the game at 72.

“We had some guys play well but we have to do a much better job of protecting the ball,” said Jones, who was upset about the Tigers’ 21 turnovers. “We shot 60 percent from the field in the second half. So if we take care of the ball and you shoot that kind of percentage, it’s hard for you to lose.”

The Tigers enjoyed their only second-half advantage at 74-73 with 1:52 left on a dunk by Hopkins, who tallied 14 points. John Walker III chipped in with 12 points, five rebounds and four blocks for the Tigers, who outrebound­ed the Panthers 38-34.

Prairie View led by as many as 11 points in building a slight 40-36 halftime advantage.

A 3-pointer by Roberts gave the Panthers a 37-26 lead with 4:24 remaining in the opening 20 minutes. A 3-pointer by TSU’s Hopkins, three of his 12 firsthalf points, closed out the half ’s scoring.

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