Its rivalry week for the Claflin University and Benedict College men’s basketball teams as the two will meet Saturday in the first of two games.
The matchup is part of a Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference East Division doubleheader that features the women’s game at 1 p.m. followed by the men at 3.
Both games will be played at the HRC Arena on the Benedict campus and will be televised live on ESPN3 as part of the DII Basketball Showcase. The contest can be viewed by visiting http://es.pn/2FuS82O.
In the men’s contest, Claflin will enter the meeting as the third-place team in the divisional standings at 5-4. The Panthers are 19-5 overall and 13-4 against SIAC competition, the best mark since the 2008-09 season where they finished 25-4.
Benedict is not far behind Claflin in the division at 4-5. The Tigers are 17-7 overall and 10-6 against SIAC teams.
Claflin and Benedict come into the rival game having played the same two SIAC opponents in recent games. The Panthers defeated a previously unbeaten Morehouse College team 85-72 followed by a previously SIAC undefeated team in Clark Atlanta 85-80. Both wins came in Orangeburg.
As for Benedict, the Tigers fell to Morehouse 85-79 and Clark Atlanta 71-69.
Benedict will bring the No. 2 offensive unit in the SIAC into the game, averaging 81.9 points per game. Claflin has the best defense, allowing just 66.3 points.
Another key factor in the game will be three-point shooting. Benedict has the best percentage of shots made in the league at 42 (195-of-463). On the flip side, the Panthers are the best defensive team against three-pointers at 32 percent (147-of-457).
The Panthers are led by Jaleel Charles at 14.7 points and Benjamin “Tre” Williams with 13.1 points.
Austin Lawton is next in scoring for Claflin at 9.4 points with a team-best 50 block shots, while Triston Thompson is averaging 8.3 points and 2.9 assists.
Benedict is led by Brandon Morris at 18.2 points and 6.7 rebounds. Cairo Brown is averaging 13.3 for the Tigers.
The second meeting between Claflin and Benedict is scheduled for Feb. 17 in Orangeburg. The contest will be part of Senior Day in the athletic department.
The Lady Panthers will try to snap a late-season three-game losing streak at Benedict. Tipoff is 1 p.m.
Claflin will enter the rivalry game at 13-11 overall and 9-5 in the SIAC. The Lady Panthers have fallen in their last three outings: Clark Atlanta University twice (55-49) and 52-49, and Virginia Union University 68-50. The losing streak is the longest for Claflin since 2014-15 season, when the Lady Panthers lost five straight and finished 14-14.
Benedict contributed to that streak, defeating the Lady Panthers in the third game, 53-52. Since that season, Claflin has defeated Benedict just once, a 58-47 decision during the 2015-16 campaign.
Benedict is 7-15 overall and 7-7 in the SIAC. The Lady Tigers are 5-4 at home, while the Lady Panthers boast a 6-8 road record.
Dominique Williams leads four players in double figures for Claflin at 12.5 points per game, followed by Joy Okeke at 11.1 points.
Jhanice Stokes is next in scoring for the Lady Panthers at 10.6 points and a team-high 50 blocked shots, followed by Ashley Fields with 10.2 points.
Benedict is led by Ay’Anna Bey at 13.7 points and 7.6 rebounds.
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