LONGVIEW, Texas – A season long goal came to fruition Saturday night, March 5 as the No. 13 Langston Lions held off No. 1 LSU-Alexandria to claim the 2016 Red River Conference tournament championship.
Tied at 72-72 with under 30 seconds remaining, the Lions put the ball in guard Curtis Jones (SR/Chicago, Ill.)' hands and hoped he had some magic up his sleeve to bring Langston out on top.
Jones was immediately double-teamed and forced into a tough shot; Terrell Jones (JR/Memphis, Tenn.) answered the call with the quick rebound and toss to the rim that dropped in to give Langston a 74-72 advantage with 2.5 seconds remaining.
On the ensuing inbounds play the Generals attempted to get the ball to DeAngelo Coleman but Mike Harris (JR/East Chicago, Ind.) read the attempt perfectly, picked off the pass and tossed up a three-point attempt as time expired to clinch the 74-72 conference championship for the Lions.
From the opening tip the Lions never relented and were never fazed squaring off against the number one team in the NAIA; Langston opened up a 14-2 lead to start the game and went into halftime tied at 31-31.
The Lions are currently 25-6 on the season and have clinched a berth into the NAIA National Tournament that start on March 16 in Kansas City, Mo. Seeding and pairings will be announced on Wednesday, March 9.
The RRAC tournament title is the first for Langston since the 2007-08 season.
For the game Langston knocked down 41 percent (23-of-55) from the field and were led in scoring by Terrell Jones' 22 points; Curtis Jones added 16 and Marquis Walters (SR/Ardmore, Okla.) pumped in 12.
Before Saturday, LSU Alexandria had not lost since Dec. 3 in overtime against Langston for the Generals' only loss in conference play. Langston repeated the feat on Saturday by toppling the top-ranked Generals, 74-72, in a thrilling Raising Cane's RRAC Men's Basketball Tournament championship game.
Both teams are assured of a trip to the NAIA Divison I Men's Basketball National Championship Game by virtue of LSUA's regular season conference title and Langston's tournament triumph.
LSUA saw its 21-game winning streak come to an end. Now it's on the Kansas City, and both teams will learn their draw and seeding in the NAIA national tournament on Wednesday. Two other RRAC teams, Our Lady of the Lake and LSU Shreveport, will wait until then to learn their fate. Both will be in the running for at-larger berths.
This was the first RRAC tournament title for the 13th-ranked Lions since 2004. Langston is now 25-6 on the season, and LSUA is 29-3.
Following are the members of the 2016 RRAC All-Tournament Team:
|Curtis Jones - MVP||Langston|
|DeAngelo Coleman||LSU Alexandria|
|Brian Sylvester||LSU Alexandria|
|Joe Jackson||Our Lady of the Lake|
|Olajuwon Garner||Our Lady of the Lake|
|Lyndale James||LSU Shreveport|
|Tyrell Springer||LSU Shreveport|
COURTESY LANGSTON UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS MEDIA RELATIONS
RED RIVER ATHLETIC CONFERENCE MEDIA RELATIONS