Braves Defeat Lakers to Secure Peach Belt Tournament Title for Second Straight Season
Senior Nigel Grant led the Braves in scoring in their championship bout on his way to winning PBC tournament MVP. Photo by Joshua Reed
The UNCP Braves faced off against the Lakers of Clayton State University in the PBC Tournament Title game on March 4. It was a foretold collision course of the two most dominant teams in the Peach Belt Conference.
In their second straight game in Marrow, Ga., the Black and Gold notched their second victory over the Lakers (70-60) and their second consecutive conference tournament crown. After the top-seeded Clayton State toppled, the Braves became the fourth program in conference history to claim consecutive PBC tournament championships.
It marked the second time a team secured both the tournament, and regular season tournament titles in back to back seasons. The defeat brought an abrupt end to an impressive 14-game win streak for the hosting Lakers.
The CSU Lakers were last defeated on Jan. 20 when they fell to the Braves 85-65 at Lumbee Guaranty Bank Court, at a most inopportune time. The Black and Gold got off to a hot start by scoring 12 of the games first 14 points to establish their first lead of the day.
However, Clayton State did not stay downtrodden for long, as they erased the early deficit and took their first advantage of the contest. The Lakers led by as many as six points before the Braves gained the lead. UNCP headed into the intermission with a slim 35-34 advantage.
Both teams took turns holding the lead seven times in the first 10 minutes coming out of the locker rooms. The Braves went on a 10-1 scoring run with just under 10 minutes to play. This put them ahead for what proved to be the final time.
The Lakers reduced the point deficit to a single possession 57-54, but the Black and Gold kept them at bay the rest of the way. Redshirt senior Nigel Grant put up 18 of his game-high 26 points in the first half alone. He finished the weekend as the tournament MVP.