Johnson C. Smith gets last second victory over Claflin

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Romanda Noble-Watson contributed to this story

Charlotte, NC (February 2, 2019) – In its first-ever Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) basketball tournament appearance, the Claflin University men’s basketball team suffered a tough overtime loss at the buzzer, falling to Johnson C. Smith University, 83-80, in the quarterfinal round in Bojangles’ Coliseum in Charlotte, NC.

The Panthers finished 13-14 overall in their first-ever CIAA season.  Johnson C. Smith improves to 10-17 and move on to face the No. 2 seed in the North, Virginia Union University in another quarterfinal match up Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. in the Spectrum Center.

Triston Thompson, who scored 15 of his team-high 23 points in the second half, led four Panther players in double-figures.  Austin Lawton, who scored 16 in of his 18 points in the second half and finished with a double-double, as he pulled in a game-high 16 rebounds.

Brandon Davis added 15 points with seven rebounds and Cornellius Reynolds rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11 points.  Reynolds pulled in nine rebounds for the Panthers who outrebounded the Golden Bulls 44-30.

Johnson C. Smith was led by Roddric Ross who finished the game with 25 points and 11 rebounds.  Cayse Minor scored 16 points while Justice Goodloe and Nenad Milenkovic dropped in 14 and 13 points, respectively for the Golden Bulls.

Lawton scored the first two points in overtime but that was followed five seconds later by a three pointer by Ross to put Johnson C. Smith up by one, 75-74.  Brandon Davis connected on a layup with a little under one minute later to put the Panthers back up by one, 76-75.

Reynolds connected on two free-throws with 2:40 remaining in the extra period to put Claflin up by three, 78-75, but the lead would be short-lived as Ross hit three free-throws to tie the game for the 13th time at 78-all.

Lawton gave the Panthers its last lead, 80-78, with 1:01 remaining before Antonio Harper hit a lay up to tie the game at 80-80.

After a turnover by the Panthers with four seconds remaining in overtime, Minor hit a three-pointer as time expired to give the Golden Bulls the three-point victory.

After trailing by one at the half, 36-35, Johnson C. Smith opened the second half of play with an 8-2 run over the first two-plus minutes to take a five point lead, 43-38, at the 17:26 mark.

The teams exchanged baskets over the next four minutes with three ties over the span, the last at 47-all with 13:30 remaining in the contest.

The Golden Bulls gained the momentum at that point in the game.  After the Panthers Jaimik Moore hit one of two free-throws, Johnson C. Smith scored the next five points to take a four-point lead, 48-52. The Golden Bulls pushed their lead to 12 (67-55) with 5:47 remaining.

Claflin chipped away at the lead one basket at a time.  The Panthers outscored Johnson C. Smith 14-3 over the next 4:27 to pull within one, 70-69.  Thompson scored 12 points during that span.

The teams once again exchanged baskets playing to 72-all at the end the regulation.

The teams exchanged baskets over the first four-plus minutes of the game playing to five ties with three lead changes over the span.  Claflin built a four point lead at the 9:55 mark, 18-14, but Johnson C. Smith remained poised.

After playing to the sixth tie of the half, Johnson C. Smith regained the momentum.  The Golden Bulls pushed the lead to six on two occasions, the last being 32-26 with 3:18 remaining in the half.

The Panthers closed the first half scoring the last 10-of-13 points for the one point lead at intermission.

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