March 12, 2006
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Peter Cipriano had 21 points and nine rebounds and Southern University beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 57-44 to win its first Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament championship in 13 years.
"Peter has been a very good player for us all year," said first-year Southern coach Rob Spivery. "We wanted to go to him late because both of Arkansas-Pine Bluff's big guys were in foul trouble."
The Golden Lions (12-15) had three players with four fouls at the end of the game.
Southern (18-12) advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1993, when it upset Georgia Tech in the first round.
Southern held the Golden Lions to just 27 percent shooting in the first half and led 25-17 at halftime. Arkansas-Pine Bluff went 1-for-6 from 3-point range before the break.
"I thought our defense was outstanding," Spivery said. "We didn't shoot particularly well, but we played defense and rebounded extremely well. When you do those two things effectively, you'll usually have a chance to win."
Chris Alexander scored 13 points and Deforres Riley-Smith grabbed 12 rebounds for Southern, which outrebounded the Golden Lions 47-32.
Cipriano scored 15 points in the second half, going 5-for-5 from the floor and connecting on all five of his free-throw attempts.
Timothy Hamilton made three of four 3-pointers to score nine points for Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
"Southern played good defense, but the opportunities we missed weren't about the defense," Arkansas-Pine Bluff coach Van Holt said. "Several times we had open shots and just missed. When you miss easy shots against a team like Southern, it comes back to haunt you."
The win marked the third SWAC tournament title for Spivery, who also won the tournament in 2001 and 2004 as coach of Alabama State.