On Saturday, the Legacy Classic HBCU Invitational took place for the third consecutive year at the Prudential Center. The event, which features two nationally televised games, is a showcase for Historically Black Colleges and Universities to play in front of Northeast crowds and alum that they usually can't play in front of often.
The feel of the day was more than just basketball. It was a celebration of HBCUs and their continued importance in the country. As usual, there was financial literacy advice and tables for fans to learn about the different HBCU institutions. While the games on the court are paramount to the Legacy Classic, the day is about so much more.
The day's first game featured a Southwestern Athletic Conference tilt in a game with serious conference implications.
Grambling State 70, Jackson State 62
After a tough first half, Grambling State took down conference foe Jackson State after making major adjustments in the second half.
Both Jackson State and Grambling State started slowly in the Legacy Classic opener as they looked to throw the first big blow of the matchup. At the under 12-minute media timeout, both teams were shooting in the mid-30 percent range and looking for a consistent offensive presence in the first half.
Grambling State went on a stretch where they shot 2-of-10 from the floor as Jackson State built a five-point lead with four minutes left in the first half. For the most part, Jackson State dominated the half, but they could not pull away as they shot well under 35 percent from the field but led in the rebounding battle.
Grambling State kept it close in the opening half as they shot 50 percent from beyond the arc. Terrence Lewis' three tied the game at 29 as the halftime buzzer expired. Jalen Johnson led Grambling with eight points, while Chase Adams led Jackson State with six points in the opening 20 minutes of play.
Through the opening minutes of the second half, both teams struggled to hit baskets as each squad scored six points at the under 16-minute media timeout. Like Grambling State in the first half, Jackson State went through a drought as they did not score for over three minutes as Grambling took a three-point lead, 43-40, with 11:28 remaining in regulation.
Grambling tightened up on the defensive end while scoring timely buckets to get ahead by eight points with under five minutes left. Chase Adams tried to keep Jackson State in the game after knocking down a three, but Antwan Burnett's three-point play with 1:05 left sealed the game. Tra'Michael Moton scored 14 of his game-high 19 points in the second half as the Tigers held on late to move to 6-2 in the SWAC and 9-12 overall.
Ken Evans led Jackson State (8-13, 4-4 SWAC) with 15 points, while Jordan O'Neal finished with 11 points and six rebounds.
Hampton 63, Howard 61
In the second game of the afternoon, Hampton used their bench to come back and defeat Howard at the Legacy Classic.
Hampton started 1-of-7 from the field as Howard smothered them inside and forced tough shots and turnovers. The Bisons, on the other hand, were clicking offensively, jumping out to a 7-2 lead at the 15:54 mark of the first half. The tide turned for Howard as they went on a 1-of-8 stretch that halted their offensive momentum.
Howard's struggles continued as they next went on a scoring drought of over two and a half minutes. While the Bisons struggled, Hampton went on a 7-0 run pull to within one with 7:51 left in the first half. Howard came to life with a 9-0 run to stretch their lead to 24-14.
Hampton started to play better as the half came to its conclusion as they went on a 7-0 scoring run and forced three Howard turnovers. A Bryce Harris layup with 5.2 left in the half put Howard up 34-27, where the score stood at the half. Dom Campbell led the Bison with 14 points and nine rebounds.
Marcus Dockery and Bryce Harris scored the first eight points of the second half for Howard as their lead jumped to 10 points at the first media timeout of the second half. Even as Howard went on a 3:28 stretch of no points, Hampton could only score three points and could not capitalize.
After a Tedrick Wilcox Jr. floater to cut the Pirate deficit to five, Howard's next possession looked out of sorts as the momentum started to shift towards Hampton. Howard went on another drought of points and went 2-of-13 at the 7:38 mark of the second half. Howard rebounded well and turned up the defensive pressure as they held Hampton without a field goal for over two minutes. The defense turned into the offense as Bryce Harris scored Howard's following five points, including a dunk after a steal, to push the Bison lead to 11 points, 56-45.
With the score 56-51 in favor of Howard with 3:52 left in regulation, Wilcox Jr. hit a jumper to cut Hampton's deficit to three. A frantic final two minutes ensued as Howard couldn't hit the dagger that would have put the game out of reach. Ja'von Benson hit 1-of-2 free throws to make it a two-point game, and Isiah Warfield hit two to extend the lead for Howard.
Jerry Deng hit a corner three on the ensuing possession to put Hampton down by one with 1:02 remaining. After a missed three-point attempt, Deng once again hit a three in the corner to give Hampton a two-point lead and send the pro-Hampton crowd into a frenzy.
After a Howard timeout, Harris drove to the basket and was knocked down, but no foul was called as Howard was forced to foul. Jordan Nesbitt made one of two from the charity stripe to put the Pirates up three with 11.7 seconds left. After one final Howard timeout, Campbell's three-point attempt was no good as Hampton sealed the game at the foul line for the comeback win.
"One thing I will give this group of young men we have; they've had amnesia this whole time," said Hampton head coach Edward Joyner Jr. "They come to practice, they work hard every day, and that's why it's so disheartening to us because we lost so many close ones. We blew these types of games, so for them to come back and get the feeling they got tonight with this type of atmosphere in this Legacy Classic on TNT was huge."
Deng finished with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc to lead Hampton to their fifth victory of the year.
Harris finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds for Howard (9-14), while Campbell scored 18 points and grabbed ten rebounds.
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