Grambling converts homecourt advantage, upsets Colorado

JOURNAL SPORTS

GRAMBLING – It was surprising, and refreshing, to see the Colorado Buffaloes of the Pac-12 Conference visit Grambling State’s Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center Friday night. Not many Power 5 basketball programs visit smaller Division I venues.

Few across the country imagined a much bigger surprise. But the G-Men delivered, leading start to finish in an 83-74 victory in the inaugural SWAC/Pac-12 Legacy Series.

GSU’s first win over a member of a Power 5 conference came on Dec. 1, 2017 as the Tigers edged Georgia Tech, 64-63, in Atlanta. While that was also an upset, this one was arguably bigger because loyal Grambling fans got to watch it unfold in person, on campus.

“It’s nothing like playing at home,” GSU coach Donte’ Jackson said. “There’s nothing like playing in front of your family and friends and being able to compete at a high level. I just really appreciate everybody coming out and making it a good crowd.”

Official attendance was slightly under a thousand, but it was a spirited gathering, as the Tigers built a 14-point halftime lead and never gave it up.

Shawndarius Cowart paced four players in double figures with 19 points, on 6-of-12 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers. Cameron Christon registered 17 and Terrence Lewis added 15 points, while Carte’Are Gordon contributed 14.

Pushing the tempo from the start, GSU raced to a 10-4 lead after a thunderous two-handed dunk by Gordon and stretched the lead to 17-6 as Lewis outraced the Buffs defense for a layup six minutes in.

Grambling used a 13-2 run to take a 37-18 advantage with 6:13 left in the half. The spread grew to 19, 43-24, with 2:24 left.

The Buffs scored eight straight over the final two minutes of the half to close the deficit to 43-32, but Cowart’s buzzer-beater sent the Tigers into the break with a 46-32 advantage.

“That was an incredible momentum changer,” Jackson said. “Colorado started pushing and taking the momentum and Cowart hit a big buzzer-beater. It was kind of a back breaker.”

The Buffs (1-1) cut the margin to 60-51 with just over 11 minutes to play, but the Tigers used a 9-2 run to extend the lead back to double digits, 69-53, at the 7:40 mark.

Colorado got aggressive on the defensive end and used a 7-0 run to cut the double-digit deficit to 73-64 with 3:20 left. GSU’s lead was trimmed to 77-70 with 1:28 to go.

The Tigers sealed the game at the free throw line, hitting six of their last eight from there to maintain control.

Grambling gets a week to savor the victory before heading out to play Grand Canyon and Arizona State next Saturday and Monday.