Philander Smith coach Todd Day appeared frustrated Tuesday night at halftime of the Panthers’ game with Texas A&M University-Texarkana at the Patterson Student Center.
Day, a former Arkansas Razorback basketball star, had just watched his team shoot 74 percent from three-point range in the first 20 minutes for 14 treys. Incredibly, the host Eagles (2-4) were leading at intermission, 54-53.
The Panthers (1-4) turned to defense and pressure in the second half, which changed the game’s outlook. Philander Smith, a longtime NAIA member from Little Rock, pulled away in the second half for its first win, 101-88. The Panthers have lost twice to Wiley College of the Red River Conference, and once to Ouachita Baptist University.
“We’ve got to get better down the stretch, we’ve been struggling a bit this year,” said TAMU-T coach Ryan Wall. “The last five or seven minutes we kind of get out of our realm. At the end of the day we couldn’t get the stops, which hurt. Improvement starts with defense, it’s not our offense. We’ve got to watch film, and learn from it.”
Panthers turn game into 3-point exhibition
It was a shooting exhibition with the two schools combining for 36 three-pointers, 21 by the Panthers. Guard Miquan Martin of Grand Prairie, Texas, was 7 of 9 from long range, and Robert Jordan of Lexington, Miss., converted six treys. The winners finished the game at 58 percent on their 3-point shooting, with the host Eagles close behind.
“A lot of people can’t make fourteen threes when they’re wide open, ” said Wall. “They were making them from NBA range. Their press hurt us, it changed the game’s momentum when we turned the ball over. We’ve got to take care of the ball better.”
Dallas senior Desmond Kennedy buried seven treys and scored a team-high 28 points. Teammate Anthony McGee contributed five 3-pointers and 21 points. Connor Ouellette added 14 points and led the Eagles with 4 rebounds. Philander Smith won the battle on the glass, 38-30.
The Eagles’ success in the first half could be traced to their performance at the free throw line. Texarkana made 9 of its 15 treys in the first half, while converting 15 of 16 free throws. The Panthers shot only three free throws in the first half, making one.
Philander Smith’s full-court pressure in the second half resulted in 12 of the Eagles’ 18 turnovers. Texarkana only shot 30 percent in the final half, too.
The A&M-Texarkana men will be back in action Saturday against Blue Mountain College at 2 p.m. in the Patterson Student Center. The Eagles play at Philander Smith next Tuesday.