Niya Mitchell battled foul trouble and turnovers Monday night but came up big when needed. Mitchell’s tough driving layup with six seconds remaining gave Texas Southern a 78-77 win over the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Lady Lions to remain perfect at home.
The Tigers (11-7, 6-1 SWAC), for the second consecutive game, raced to a 9-0 lead; however, the Lady Lions responded with a 12-3 run to cut TSU’s lead to 15-12. The Tigers led 19-16 at the end of the first period.
Destiny Arvinger sank a three-point shot to open the second quarter and start a 9-0 TSU run which boosted TSU’s lead to 28-16 with 7:47 remaining until halftime. The Tigers forced the Lady Lions into nine turnovers (8 steals) in the second quarter which the Tigers converted into eight fast break points. The Lady Lions had more turnovers (9) than made baskets (5). Texas Southern outscored UAPB 28-15 in the second quarter to lead 47-31 at halftime.
UAPB’s Noe’ll Taylor scored a layup to begin the third quarter scoring; but, TSU guard Richelle Velez answered with a layup. Then, TSU’s Lauren Lewis scored a layup for an 18-point lead (51-33). Three minutes later, Texas Southern led 59-41 after Jekalen Jones’ three-point basket.
After Jones’ three-point basket, the Tigers went scoreless for three minutes before Ataiya Bridges made two free throws. The Tigers missed five consecutive shots before Bridges scored a layup with five seconds remaining in the third quarter as they led 63-49 despite having seven turnovers.
Ciani Cryor scored a layup to increase TSU’s lead to 65-49 with 9:50 remaining in the ball game. However, the tide began to turn in favor of UAPB as the Tigers missed five field goals, four free throws and committed three turnovers over the next six minutes of the quarter. UAPB took advantage with a 19-4 run to slice Texas Southern’s margin to just one (69-68) with 3:45 left in the ball game. Cryor needed just eight seconds to race down the court to score a layup plus the free throw to increase TSU’s lead to 72-68. Cryor extended her personal scoring run to five when she made two more free throws.
Texas Southern led 74-68 with 2:51 remaining in the ball game. Unfortunately, the Tigers’ offense experienced another difficult stretch with four turnovers and three missed field goals. Arkansas-Pine Bluff tied the game at 74 with 24 seconds left in the ball game.
Cryor was fouled with 18 seconds remaining. She made both free throws for a two-point TSU lead which led UAPB to call a 30-second timeout to advance the ball into the front court. After the timeout, junior guard Trasity Totten sank a three-point shot with 13 seconds left in the game. Totten’s three-point basket was her first made three of the game and UAPB’s first lead of the contest as they led 77-76.
After a TSU timeout, Niya Mitchell caught a pass at the free throw line. She pivoted over her left shoulder, dribbled; and went to the basket strong for the go-ahead basket. UAPB called its final timeout to set up a play as well as advance the ball into the frontcourt. Kyeonia Harris received the inbounds pass and attacked the basket from the right side of the court. She lofted a floater to the rim but the ball bounced on the rim and rolled out to preserve TSU’s win and escape.
Cryor scored a game-high 21 points. She added seven rebounds, three steals, three assists and six turnovers. Ataiya Bridges scored 17 while Mitchell scored 12 points – including the game-winner; and Destiny Arvinger added 10 points. The Tigers committed 24 turnovers – 14 in the second half. Arkansas-Pine Bluff scored 22 points off the turnovers. The Lady Lions turned over the ball 23 times which led to 22 points for the Tigers.
Harris led Arkansas-Pine Bluff with 20 points.
Texas Southern’s next three games are on the road. The first of the three road games will be Saturday, Feb. 1 at Alabama A&M. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.