This evening, the Philander Smith College Panther basketball team decided to make history by bringing home the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) tournament title.
This is the first time since the Panthers have joined the NAIA league that they have earned this distinguished honor. Through the use of offensive resilience, defensive determination, and unyielding resolve, the Panthers were able to get the job done.
The Panthers earned the GCAC championship title after sweeping their tournament competition. The sweep began on Thursday, February 27th when they skated by the Bulldogs of Fisk University, 91-81, during the first round of tournament play. During that match up, the Panthers had four players in double-digits, Alvin Nance (20), Clayton Busby (18), Andre Clark (16), and D'Alvin Brown (14).
The next night (Friday, March 1st), the Panthers faced the Tigers of Edward Waters College in the semi-final round of the conference tournament. Once again, the Panthers were successful in overtaking their opponent, beating the Tigers, 77-69. Damarkus Lipscomb led the Panthers with a double-double, 14 points and 10 assists. Busby, Nance, and Jermaine Hollimon also chipped in 12, 11, and 11 points of their own to wrestle the win from the Tigers.
This evening, the Panthers continued the conference tournament sweep as they tumbled over the Dillard University Blue Devils, 65-45 in the finals. Once again, the Panthers used a conglomeration of defensive and offensive measures to overtake their opponent. With four players in double figures, the Panthers held the Blue Devils to 23 points in the second half to turn a five point halftime lead into a 20 point victory.
Andre Clark led the Panthers with a double-double consisting of 19 points and 13 rebounds. Clark was the only Panther in double digits on the night.
North Little Rock natives Andre Clark and Damarkus Lipscomb came away with all-tournament honors. Lipscomb was crowned the GCAC Tournament Most Valuable Player (MVP) for his exceptional leadership and athletic abilities.
In two weeks, the 22nd ranked Panthers will travel to Kansas City to compete in the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship. The tournament will be held at the Municipal Auditorium March 13th - 19th.