The women of Fort Valley State University (12-11, 8-6) won the first game 68-67 on Saturday in dramatic fashion by coming back from an eight-point deficit late in the game to pull out the win.
The Lady Panthers (4-20, 3-11) held a six-point lead with 5:30 left, and seemingly in control of the game. But the Lady Wildcats applied a full-court press and denied Claflin from advancing the basketball into the front court until they had taken the lead, 65-64, with 43 seconds left. Each team scored three points the rest of the way for the final margin of victory, 68-67.
The first half was just as close as neither would gain more than a six-point advantage, as Claflin held a slim one-point lead at the break, 30-29.
Briana Shepard led the lady Wildcats in scoring with 14 points, while Cameronique Dawson chipped in 10 points.
The Lady Panthers received balanced scoring with four players scoring in double figures on the night, led by Tylesha Brown with a game-high 22 points, while Brittani Jones, Talaya Robinson and Shamieka Ravenell scored 10 points each.
The men’s game was just as exciting as the women’s, but this time the Panthers came out on the winning side of the 61-60 contest. The Panthers had to survive a late rally by the Wildcats of Fort Valley, when the Panthers saw their second-half 19-point lead dwindle (46-27) at the 10:32 mark, as the Wildcats scratched and clawed their way all the way back to tie the score 53-53 with 2:40 left in the game. After a Wildcat score to take the lead 55-53, the Panthers rallied and scored on a basket and free throw by Terence Bowman for a 56-55 advantage with 1:39 to go. Fort Valley scored another basket for a 57-56 lead, but the Panthers had another opportunity, and took advantage of it as Jarrod Denard made one of two free throws for a 57-57 deadlock before Fort Valley made one of two free throws to regain the lead 58-57. After a Claflin turnover the Wildcats scored again and made the score 60-57 with 1:11 left. David Glover made one of two free throws to come to within striking distance 60-58 with 43 seconds left. After a missed opportunity by Fort Valley, Jarrod Denard received a pass in stride from Glover at the three-point line and Denard hit the jumper to put the Panthers up 61-60 with 2 seconds left to play. On the ensuing inbounds pass Claflin deflected the ball and it went out of bounds with .3 second left to play. The desperation heave at the basket went in, but it was ruled no good as the clock expired before the shot was taken, and the Panthers survived the scare 61-60.
Fort Valley was led by Corey Hunter with 14 points, Dezmond Lofland with 11 points and Detruis McCall with 10 points.
Bowman led the Panthers’ scoring attack with a game-high 19 points, while Michael Henry added eight points.
The Panthers end their homestand on Monday night, when the seniors will be honored when Paine College comes to town for a 5:30 p.m. matchup.