Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Aaric Murray led with 27 points and 10 rebounds as Texas Southern defeated Prairie View, 78-73, to win the Southwestern Athletic Conference title and gain a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Mandarious Gibbs supplied 15 points and five assists for the second-seeded Tigers (19-14), who are set to make their fifth NCAA Tournament appearance. Jose Rodriguez scored 13 points and D'Angelo Scott had 10 points and five rebounds in Texas Southern's ninth straight win.
Montrael Scott contributed 19 points and six rebounds for the Panthers (11-23), who made the conference final after winning three straight on the heels of a seven-game skid.
Louis Munks and John Brisco had 16 and 11 points, respectively, for Prairie View, which defeated Alabama A&M in the semifinal round, 55-49, on Friday.
Munks supplied seven points in an 11-2 run early in the first half to give the Panthers a 11-4 lead nearly five minutes into the game.
After Aaron Clayborn split a pair of free throws, it took more than six minutes for Texas Southern to add to their lead. Ray Penn and Rodriguez hit back-to-back triples and then Murray's three-point play cut the deficit to seven points as Prairie View took a 38-31 lead into the half.
Jules Montgomery led off the second half with a jumper for Prairie View, but Texas Southern responded with an 11-0 run to claim the lead. Penn's trey tied the game at 40 and Murray scored four straight points to give the Tigers a 44-40 lead.
Scott's 3-ball gave the Panthers a momentary lead, but Murray and Rodriguez had five points apiece in a 12-3 spurt as the Tigers jumped out to a 56-48 advantage with 8:31 remaining.
Penn and Lawrence Johnson-Danner made consecutive triples for the Tigers with five minutes left to give Texas Southern a 68-57 lead, but DeMondre Chapman capped an 8-2 Prairie View run with a slam to make it a five-point game with two minutes remaining.
Texas Southern's defense came up big with under a minute to go. The Panthers missed three straight shots and Murray blocked a pair before Penn grabbed the rebound. Gibbs and Scott combined on six made free throws to seal the win.
Texas Southern played in its first conference title game since the 2002-03 season ... It was the first time since 1982 that the men's and women's SWAC championship game featured the same two schools ... Texas Southern edged Prairie View in rebounds, 32-31 ... Penn had nine points and five rebounds for Texas Southern.