Southern holds off Riverside rally
The smile was back on Kendrick Hall’s face after his Southern Spartans snapped a four-game losing streak with a 64-59 victory at Riverside on Tuesday night.
Amari Hamilton scored 23 points to lead Southern (8-12-1, 3-6 PAC-6), which survived a Herculean effort by the Pirates’ Al Hughes.
Hughes scored 18 of his 28 game-high points in the fourth quarter, as Riverside (8-13, 2-7) whittled a 14-point deficit down to four with a minute remaining. But Hamilton made six consecutive free throws, and teammate Tyron Cameron chipped in one, as the Spartans hung on.
“It was good to get back in the win column,” Hall said after exiting Southern’s locker room with a wide smile. “Winning always solves some things, but it doesn’t solve everything. But it really felt good.”
Hall’s team prides itself on defense, and that part of the game was effective Tuesday as Riverside shot 31 percent from the floor and made only 1 of 14 from 3-point range. Southern’s offense was solid, as well, making 24 of 50 field goals and 5 of 9 from outside the arc.
Hamilton and Ryan Hester each scored four points early in the fourth quarter when the Spartans ran to a 52-48 lead. Hamilton scored 12 points in the final period.
“He shot with confidence,” Hall said. “At the beginning of the year, he wasn’t taking really good shots. He got down on himself a little bit, but as the games progressed throughout the year, he started shooting with more confidence. Tonight, he felt comfortable.
“Our guards penetrated well and we spaced the floor well, and that enabled him to get some really good shots.”
Hall also credited Isaiah Maurice for contributions on both ends of the floor, blocking shots and running the floor.
Maurice was part of an exchange of spectacular dunks early in the fourth. The Pirates’ Jordan Jones (12 points) took a pass at the free throw line and drove to the basket, throwing down a one-handed slam, much to the delight of the Riverside crowd. Fouled by Maurice, Jones sank the free throw.
But Maurice immediately answered with a two-handed dunk on an alley-oop pass from Hamilton.
“They had a really good slam, and usually (Maurice) gets down on himself,” Hall said. “He came right back and answered with one himself. I was really proud of him for doing that.”
Jones and Hughes scored all of the Pirates’ fourth-quarter points, with Jones’ putback cutting the lead to 57-53. Riverside had other opportunities to make it closer but turned the ball over three times and missed three 3-point attempts and five other shots in the closing minutes.
“We were getting the shots we felt like were good shots, for the most part,” Riverside coach Brian Strickland said. “We’ve got to knock ’em down. We had some open looks there in the last two or three minutes. You’ve got to step up and knock ’em down.”
Southern 64, Riverside 59
SOUTHERN — Amari Hamilton 23, Ryan Hester 11, Shamiek Wilson 10, Tyron Cameron 7, Isaiah Maurice 7, Jerrick Richmond 6.
RIVERSIDE — Al Hughes 28, Jordan Jones 12, Mike Tillotson 10, Mike Singletary 4, Jordan McCain 3, Terrence Suitt 2.
3-point goals—Southern 5 (Wilson 2, Hamilton 2, Cameron 1), Riverside 1 (McCain 1). Turnovers—Southern 18, Riverside 14. Total fouls—Southern 20 , Riverside 18.
Records—Southern 7-13-1, 3-6 PAC-6 4-A; Riverside 8-13, 2-7.
Southern (G) 50, Riverside 38
Southern and Riverside entered the fourth quarter tied at 24, but the Spartans then more than doubled their point total to pull away to a 50-38 victory.
Regene Watson led Southern (13-5, 7-1 PAC-6) with 15 points. The Spartans went on a 10-1 run to start the final period, then survived a 5-0 Pirate spree.
Mone’ Jones led Riverside (9-12, 3-6) with 11 points.
Southern 50, Riverside 38
SOUTHERN — Regene Watson 15, Bryanna Staton 9, Ariana Tillman 7, Sydni Dobson 7, Addis Lemons 6, Alexis Joyner 6.
RIVERSIDE — Mone’ Jones 11, Zaria Rogers 9, Kiara Jacobs 7, Meghan Pleasants 5, Yamika Clifton 3, Atlanta Woodall 3.
3-point goals—Southern 1 (Staton 1). Total fouls—Southern 14, Riverside 18.
Records—Southern 13-5, 7-1 PAC-6 4-A; Riverside 9-12, 3-6.