Grambling wins SWAC Women's Basketball Tournament crown
#3 Grambling State 72, #1 Southern 68
HOUSTON – A 19-year title drought is over as the No. 3 seed Grambling State Lady Tigers defeated top-seeded Southern Jaguars 72-68 to win the 2018 Southwestern Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament Saturday afternoon in Delmar Fieldhouse.
Tournament Most Valuable Player Shakyla Hill led Grambling with 27 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals. Jazmin Boyd and Monisha Neal each added 11 points.
Southern was led by Briana Green, who scored 22 points to go with nine assists and five rebounds. Samantha Duncan added 12 points, and Courtney Parsons scored 10.
Tied 53-53 after the third, Skylar O’Bear put Southern (17-13) ahead with a three-pointer. The sides traded baskets as Grambling stayed in striking distance, keeping the margin within one possession until Hill raced out behind the Southern defense to put the Lady Tigers ahead 61-60 with 4:23 left.
Hill then buried a three-pointer to push the Lady Tigers up by four with 3:32 left. Grambling (19-13) scrapped together an 11-2 run to go ahead 68-62 with under two minutes left. Green answered with back-to-back scores to close the gap to 68-66 with 31 seconds left. Neal knocked down a free throw to make the game 69-66 with 27 ticks left. Justice Coleman then picked off a lazy pass and coasting to an uncontested lay-up. Grambling fended off the Jaguars late to win the program’s first title since 1999.
The Jaguars flew out of the gate as Grambling struggled to find offense early on. Parsons outscored the Lady Tigers on her own with six points, as Southern opened the game on an 11-4 run.
Grambling used its explosive transition offense to find its footing, and an Ariel Williams three-ball tied the game at 15-15. The Lady Tigers ended the frame on a 9-3 run, but Southern eventually took a 19-17 lead into the second.
Southern pushed its lead to 26-21 but went cold offensively, failing to connect from the field for a stretch of more than two minutes. Meanwhile, Grambling took control with a 9-0 run over an 81-second span -- capped by a swipe and score from Takerra Parsons – to go ahead 30-26 with 4:49 left in the break.
Green broke the Jaguar drought after intercepting a pass and finishing with a floater on the other end. From there, the Jaguars closed the gap before both sides traded buckets. Danayea Charles tied the game at 35 with a perfect trip to the line, but Hill responded with a slashing drive to the basket. Duncan then connected on a heave from two-thirds of the court as time expired to give Southern a 39-37 lead at intermission. The sides battled from there until Hill’s late takeover pushed Grambling over the top.
Grambling State now awaits its first-round opponent, having earned the SWAC’s automatic bid into the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. Southern, the regular-season SWAC champion is set for an invite into the Women’s Postseason National Invitational Tournament.
The All-Tournament team is listed below.
Shakyla Hill, Grambling State (SWAC Women’s Tournament Most Valuable Player)
Monisha Neal, Grambling State
Taylor Robinson, Texas Southern
Briana Green, Southern
Samantha Duncan, Southern