The Benedict Tigers used a barrage of 3-pointers to pull out a 70-64 victory over Paine College on Saturday heading into the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament.
The victory also extended the Tigers’ winning streak to nine and locks them in as the No. 1 overall seed.
Paine lost in its seniors’ final game in the HEAL Complex. The Lions were paced by senior guard Mario Jordan with 17 points. They also got 16 from junior forward Jerel Stephenson. The Lions committed 21 turnovers while only forcing 12.
The 3-point onslaught was led senior guard Rickie Jackson. He connected on eight 3-pointers, including the go-ahead 3 to put Benedict up for good with 1:03 left in the game. Jackson led all scorers with 24 points.
He said the momentum from this game should help carry the team into the tournament.
“Coach just told me to shoot the rock and that’s what I did,” Jackson said. “Xavier (Collier) told me to be ready to shoot on that last possession and when I caught it, I knew to just let it fly.”
Benedict coach Fred Watson echoed the sentiments of his hot-shooting guard. He also chimed in on the passion of his senior guard Collier, a former Laney high standout.
“I told Rickie if he wasn’t going to shoot the ball confidently then he wasn’t going to make shots,” Watson said. “Xavier is an emotional player. He plays with everything he has in him, but we needed him to harness that emotion and play the game poised. He was able to do that and we got the win.”
Collier said the emotion of playing in his hometown only heightened the intensity. He finished the contest flirting with a triple-double with nine points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
“This game feels good. To come in and get this win in my hometown makes the victory that much more special,” Collier said. “To be able to pull out this win without our big man made this game more competitive. It forced us to play harder in order to pull out this victory.”
The big man Collier was referring to was two-time SIAC Player of the Year Marcus Goode, who didn’t play in the game.
Watson said playing without Goode should create confidence for his team moving forward.
The SIAC Tournament starts on Monday in Atlanta.