CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Triston Thompson scored 16 points, while Austin Lawton and Cornellius Reynolds each recorded a double-double, but it wasn’t enough as Johnson C. Smith University edged Claflin University 64-63 in a Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) men’s basketball contest on Monday.
The loss dropped Claflin to 7-12 overall and 6-8 in the CIAA (3-3 in the Southern Division).
Thompson also had seven rebounds and four assists for the Panthers.
Lawton tallied 14 points, 8-for-13 from the free throw line, and pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds, while Reynolds dropped in 11 points with 11 rebounds in the loss.
Danny Brown rounded out the double-digit scorers for the Panthers with 10 points.
Johnson C. Smith, now 5-12 overall and 2-8 in the CIAA, picked up its first divisional win in four outings.
Cayse Minor led all scorer with 26 points followed by Roddric Ross with 18 points for the Golden Bulls.
The Panthers held the biggest lead of the game at 52-44 with 10:49 left. Claflin maintained the lead until Ross hit a 3-pointer with 4:49 left, putting Johnson C. Smith in front at 57-55.
Over the next 3:44 minutes, the contest was tied twice before Lawton hit 1-of-2 free throws, giving Claflin its last lead at 63-62 with 48 seconds left.
Then with 29 seconds left, Nenad Milenkovic scored what proved to be the winning basket on a layup.
The Panthers missed two game-winning opportunities in the final 5 seconds.
The opening half was nearly a draw as Claflin held a narrow 35-34 lead at intermission, thanks to a three-pointer from Cornellius Reynolds with .02 left.
The summary of the first half consisted of three ties and six lead changes, with neither team holding more than a 6-point advantage. The two teams had 13 field goals and four free throws apiece. The only difference came in the 3-point department, where the Panthers knocked down five to four for the Golden Bulls.
The Panthers produced their six-point lead at 12:22 mark of the first half when Romero Hill drilled a 3-pointer, putting Claflin up 22-16.
Brown and Thompson combined for nearly half of Claflin's first-half offensive production tallying a total of 15 points, eight for Brown and seven for Thompson.
Claflin will conclude its four-game road swing at rival Benedict College on Thursday in non-conference play at 7:30 p.m. inside the Benjamin E. Mays HRC Arena on the Benedict Campus.