By: Santeria Evans | Sports Editor
On Mar. 5, the South Alabama Jaguars Men’s basketball team traveled to the Pensacola Bay Center to face the University of Louisiana Monroe Warhawks for the first round of the tournament.
The Jaguars slid down the standings after two losses against the Georgia State Panthers and took the third spot in the East.
The first half was a tight game, and both teams did not lead by more than five points through the first 12 minutes of the game. ULM was up 24-19 at the first-half. Junior Sam Iorio had 10 points.
Head Coach Richie Riley stated that he felt that nerves were kicking in for the team. “We got off to a slow start, we were really sluggish and I’m not sure exactly why,” Riley said. “Maybe it was just the nerves of playing in a conference tournament.”
The Jags trailed at the half by two, 46-44. Iorio continued to lead all scorers with 12. Freshman Jamal West and senior John Pettway each had five rebounds for the Jaguars.
The Warhawks stretched the advantage to seven, with the score being 62-55, the largest either team had compiled to that point.
The Jaguars gained the lead changing the score to 68-65 with 6:51 remaining. Senior Michael Flowers dropped all 11 on a pair of threes, a jump shot and three free throws. His total points were 21 in the second half.
The Jaguars held off the Warhawks and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Sun Belt Tournament with a final score of 80-72.
Flowers paced the game and scored 34 points, Senior Kayo Goncalves and Sophomore Tyreke Locure both secured 10 points.
The Jaguars shot 22-for-46 with 11-for-25 behind the three-point line. The Jaguars added 25 free throws on 33 attempts and also had 12 assists on 22 made baskets. This was the second Sun Belt tournament win under Riley. He stated that he was proud of the team after the win.
The Jaguars then moved on to face Louisiana in the quarterfinals on Mar. 6 at the Hartsell Arena at Pensacola State College.
Locure put the Jaguars on the board three minutes into the game by shooting a three-pointer. Senior John Pettway scored 12 points in the game’s first eight minutes, putting the Jaguars in the lead.
The Ragin’ Cajuns fought with just under four minutes remaining before the break, but Flowers scored a three-pointer and Pettway with a jumper putting the Jaguars up 33-29 going into halftime.
The second half was a fight for both teams, the Jaguars were up, but the Ragin’ Cajuns took control of the game and gained back the lead. In an attempt to help the Jaguars, senior Kayo Gonvalves scored nine points in less than two minutes, but the game was over and the Jaguars ultimately fell to the Ragin’ Cajuns with the final score of 68-79.
Pettway led the team in scoring with 16 points and three assists, Lorio with 14 points, and Flowers followed with 13 points and six assists. Coach Riley was proud of them’s performance.
“I am unbelievably proud of our group for the year they have been able to put together,” Riley said. “Our season has seen a lot of adversity; we’ve played with six or seven all year. I am proud of our guys for winning 17 games. Obviously, we didn’t want it to end today, but it doesn’t change how I feel about our group.”
The Jaguars concluded the 2020-21 season with this contest. The Jaguars record for the season is 17-11 for all-season games, 10-7 for conference games, and 7-4 for non-conference games.