COLUMBIA – Jaleel Charles scored 15 of his game-high 17 points in the second half as the Claflin University men’s basketball team fell to Benedict by four, 68-64, in a Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Eastern Division matchup in the HRC Arena.
With the loss, the Panthers fall to 19-6 overall and 12-5 in the SIAC. Benedict improves to 18-7 overall and 11-6 in the SIAC.
Charles, who played just seven minutes in the first half, also pulled in a game-high eight rebounds with four assists in the contest.
Benjamin “Trey” Williams scored 14 points, 12 in the second half, while Triston Thompson rounded out the double-figure scorers for the Claflin with 11.
Tondric Johnson came off the bench to drop in eight points for Claflin, which outscored Benedict 45-33 in the second half.
The Tigers were led by Cairo Brown with 16 points. Jelani Watson-Gayle scored 14, Brandon Morris scored 12 and Dimitri Cook dropped in 10 to close out Benedict double-digit scorers.
Rodney Prichard led the Tigers in rebounding with seven.
Claflin started the second half sluggish, but picked up both their offensive and defensive intensity.
After Benedict took its largest lead of 19, 46-27, with 15:27 remaining in the game, the Panthers offense took over. A layup by Johnson with 7:17 remaining culminated a 19-2 run by Claflin which tied the game at 48-all. That was the first tie of the game.
Two made free-throws by Mike Udume stopped the run to allow Benedict to regain the lead.
The game would have one more tie at 50-50 with 6:14 remaining. Cook hit a layup 30 seconds late to give Benedict the lead for good.
The Panthers managed to pull within one with off a jumper by Charles but a three-pointer followed by two free-throws by Brown gave the Tigers a four-point lead with 6 seconds left.
A quick layup by Tyler Thompson pulled Claflin within two with two seconds before Morris sealed the victory with two free-throws with one second left.
Benedict jumped out early on Claflin to start the game. The Panthers were down by nine within six minutes into the game, 11-2. Claflin cut the lead to four on two occasions before Benedict’s offense regained the momentum.
The Tigers owned a 16 point lead, 31-15 at the 1:05 mark before owning the 35-19 lead at intermission.
Claflin will host Benedict Feb. 17 for senior day. Tip-off is at approximately 3:30 p.m. with the senior presentation prior to the game.