Southwestern college basketball championships
Diane Xavier | 4/2/2013, 3:48 p.m.
DALLAS The Southern University Jaguars men's basketball team of Baton Rouge, La., took home the 2013 Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship trophy by defeating the Prairie View A&M Panthers 45-44 during the SWAC Tournament held at the Special Events Center in Garland.
In what was a low-scoring game, both teams battled it out until the final seconds.
By winning the tournament, the Jaguars received an automatic bid to play in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. They will face Gonzaga University in the first round of the tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Jaguars, 23-9, were the top seed in the SWAC conference. This will be there first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2006.
Jaguars' coach Roman Banks said he was full of emotions after the victory.
"This is a very nice feeling to be SWAC Champions," Banks said. "This is not even two years for me as head coach but in my second season, to inherit the job and win the title despite all the adversities our team has gone through and not having any scholarships this season and to be here as champions, I wouldn't have thought it in my wildest dreams."
Banks said he is very appreciative of the opportunity to coach the Jaguars.
"I'm thankful for Southern University for giving me the chance to coach as a division I head coach," he said. "I'm also thankful for the guys in the locker room representing Southern. This team has been very tough-minded and is built on trust and character. They persevered through a lot. This is also a very young team and we basically put this team together last year. There are a lot of new faces. To see this team come together and make sacrifices is great. Everybody has been really helpful in reaching to this point."
The game was close throughout. Southern had a seven point lead with 1:38 left on the game clock.
The Panthers, 15-19, made a mad dash to come back by scoring six unanswered points to cut the deficit to one.
Southern's Jameel Grace missed a three-pointer with 6 seconds left on the shot clock. The Panthers did not call a timeout after getting the ball back with 6 seconds left in the game, but rather ran the ball down the court as the Panthers' Jourdan DeMuynckÊtried to score for Prairie View A&M. DeMuynck had the rebound after Grace missed the three-pointer and he drove down the court and tried to score before falling down while the clock ran out on him and the Panthers.
Derick Beltran of Southern led his team with 13 points and seven rebounds and was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
"It's not just me but my teammates," Beltran said. "They helped me to get to this point and the MVP award is for them and not just for me."
Jaguars' guard Malcolm Miller from Midland said the opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament is priceless.
"This is something I have been dreaming about since I was a little kid," Miller said. "I never thought I would be in this position."