Braves’ late 3 sinks the state of Virginia

PETERSBURG, Va. — The 9th-ranked UNC Pembroke men’s basketball team recovered from a 12-point deficit early in the second half to the end, then capitalized on KJ Walker’s 3-pointer by 1.1 seconds 61st in the state of Virginia. 58, on Sunday night in the final game of the VSU Thanksgiving Classic.

The result helped the Braves (7-0) extend their winning streak in regular-season street competitions to 14 games, while giving Black & Gold a 7-0 start to a season for the fifth time in the program’s 83-year history. The setback put the Trojans on a five-game home winning streak (4-1) as they recorded a 40-point win over Carolina University on Saturday.

UNC Pembroke turned the ball over 12 times in the first half but held out in contention with a 17-13 edge in the rebound column, including five offensive boards. The Braves went 7-6 early after less than three minutes after Elijah Cobb’s hookshot, but Virginia State went on for 12 straight points to forge an 18-7 lead 4 1/2 minutes later. UNCP pulled Marion-Holmes to within six points after a Cortez free-throw just before half-time, 20-14, but the Trojans responded by accumulating the next six points to stretch their lead back into double figures. In the end, the hosts went into the break with a 33:23 lead.

Tremere Brown’s jump shot at 4:58 p.m. extended Virginia State’s lead to 42-30, but the Braves responded with a 14-3 run that allowed them to go within three points, 45-44, nearly six minutes later climb. JaJuan Carr threw five straight points to give Black & Gold their first lead of the second half, 55-54 with three minutes to go, then connected with a short jump at the 1:45 mark to give the visitors to give a 58-56 edge. Terrence Hunter-Whitfield made up a transition layup with 26 seconds left to level the game, but KJ Walker’s 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds left finally handed the Braves the lead.

Newcomer Elijah Cobb came off the bench and scored a season-best 14 points in 7-of-12 shooting to speed up the Braves while also adding eight rebounds, two steals and a block.

Freshman JaJuan Carr scored 13 points, including five in the final three minutes of the rule, in 4-of-7 shooting, as well as a 5-of-6 clip from the charity strip.

Redshirt freshman Cortez Marion-Holmes ended his night with five points but posted a team-high with eight rebounds. Redshirt senior KJ Walker had nine points, three assists and two rebounds.

UNCP went up to 4-0 in games decided by three points or fewer this season. A 74-66 overtime win over Newberry in the season opener is not included in that tally.

The 2022-23 Braves become just the fifth roster in school history to embark on a seven-straight-win campaign and the first to accomplish the feat since the 2014-15 version of the Black & Gold. The 2013-14 Braves started their season with eight straight wins.

UNCP has now recorded 14 consecutive road games in the regular season from last season. The last road loss for the program was an 82-72 decision at Emmanuel on November 23, 2021.

UNCP will open a short two-game home stand Wednesday as they adjust to battle rivals Conference Carolina in the Battle of I-95 presented by Lumbee Guaranty Bank. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. in Lumbee Guaranty Bank Courthouse. Get your tickets in advance by visiting UNCPBraves.com/Tickets.

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