GRAMBLING, La. – Freshman forward Duran Diaz redeemed himself with 29 seconds left after a go-ahead three-pointer to propel the Grambling State Tigers to their fifth straight win after a 79-76 overtime victory on Saturday afternoon before 3,419 fans at the Assembly Center.
After battling back to force sudden death via a Jared Riley lay-up with seven seconds left on the clock, Southern made the first move in overtime and broke the tie with a basket by junior Steffon Wiley. Senior guard Andre’ Ratliff came up big over the next minute and moved Grambling back ahead 72-70 with a five-point swing that saw him nail a trey and two free throws over the next minute. Southern tied the game at 72-all with 2:31 remaining after a Douglas Scott lay-up but GSU went back up by two (74-72) after freshman Jared Riley dunked home a Ratliff assist. The Jaguars wouldn’t go away and knotted the contest for the seventh time via two free throws by Joseph Jack at the 1:50 mark. Ratliff missed a trey on GSU’s next possession and SU regained a 76-74 lead after a jumper by Chris Davis with 43 ticks remaining.
With 34 seconds left and GSU down by two, Diaz was fouled and sent to the line with the chance to tie the game. Unfortunately, Diaz misfired on both free throw attempts but junior Jamal Breaux came up with a huge offensive rebound and put the ball in the hands of Ratliff. Ratliff found Diaz at the top of the key with 29 seconds left and the freshman didn’t disappoint as he connected on a wide-open trey to move GSU ahead 77-76. Steffon Wiley tried to counter Diaz’s trey with five seconds left in the game but came up short as Diaz recovered the rebound and nailed two free throws to close out the game.
The win marks the fifth consecutive win for the Tigers in addition to the eighth straight win for GSU in Grambling against Southern. In addition, Saturday’s contest marks the 17th meeting overall and 12th in Grambling State since the 1995-96 campaign where the final margin was less than six points.
Ratliff, a preseason All-SWAC selection who endured a rough start on the court throughout the season up to this point, recorded his best performance of the year with a 30-point performance that included eight treys and five assists. Diaz followed with 12 points while Breaux added 11 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Chris Scott paced Southern with 33 points while freshman Barry Honore’ pulled down 12 rebounds.
GSU hits the court on Monday night against the Braves of Alcorn State beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Assembly Center.