DAYTONA BEACH, Fl. — The second full week of the 2017-18 college basketball season is in full swing, with several marquee early-season events taking place over the next few days.
On Tuesday, the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats welcomed the Grambling Tigers to Daytona Beach in conjunction with the Ramblin’ Wreck Showcase. The Wildcats were coming off a close three-point loss to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in their last outing, while the Tigers were looking to end their three-game losing streak to open the year.
After the Wildcats opened the scoring on a free throw from Shawntrez Davis, the Tigers went on a 9-0 run to take an early eight-point lead. They would hold the lead until the midway point of the first half, until a three ball from Soufiyane Diakite tied the game at 16-all with 10:36 left on the clock.
From there, the host Wildcats wouldn’t trail the rest of the way. Bethune-Cookman would pull away in the second half for the 87-78 victory, ending their own losing streak at three games in the process.
Brandon Tabb led all scorers on the night, posting 26 points on 8-of-12 shooting in the win for the Wildcats. He was also 6-of-9 from three point range.
Shawntrez Davis had 11 points, nine rebounds, and four blocks, while Bethune-Cookman had four players reach double-figures on the night.
Diontae Jones came off the bench to post a team-high 20 points for Grambling, who also had four players score in double-figures in the loss.
After the three pointer from Diakite at the midway point of the first half, the Wildcats wouldn’t trail the rest of the way. Tabb followed it up with a three pointer of his own to push the Wildcats ahead by three, and they never looked back. Their lead reached as many as 15 points in the opening frame, and they took a nine-point lead into the break, at 44-35.
In the second frame, the Tigers looked to erase the nine-point deficit and make a game out of it. With 13:14 to play in the game, Jones hit a pair of free throws to tie the game at 53-all, eliminating the Wildcats’ halftime lead.
Grambling wasn’t able to take a lead of their own, as Diakite responded with a layup on the next possession for the Wildcats, and they wouldn’t look back the rest of the way.
A layup from Malik Maitland with five minutes to play in the game pushed the Wildcats’ lead to 17, their largest lead of the night. They would cruise down the stretch and hold down home court with an 87-78 victory over Grambling.
With the win, Bethune-Cookman (2-3) put an end to their three-game losing streak. The Wildcats will look to get back to .500 on the year when they host the Florida College Falcons on Saturday.
The loss extends the season-opening losing streak to four games for Grambling (0-4). They will look to notch their first win of the season on Saturday when they visit the UTRGV Vaqueros.
– T. Bennett