ORANGEBURG, SC (February 16, 2023) – The Claflin Panthers (18-6, 9-6 CIAA) looked good at times, but some second half struggles proved costly in a 71-61 loss to the Fayetteville State Broncos (15-12, 10-5 CIAA), Wednesday evening. The Panthers held a nine-point second half lead, but the team struggled to keep the Broncos at bay in the hard-fought loss.
The Panthers took the loss despite some strong overall play. The team finished the game, shooting 50.0% (23-of-46) from the floor with the tandem of senior guard Allen Hatchett scoring 13 points in the game while sophomore guard Bryson Dennis added 12 points. Junior center Timothy McElroy added 10 points with a game-high four rebounds.
Things looked good for the Panthers early as the team played a strong first half. After jumping out to a 10-2 lead in the first four minutes, the Panthers took control of the game. However, the team allowed the Broncos to tie the game, 20-20, with just over seven minutes left in the half. The Panthers would surge ahead by as many as 12 points, 36-24, after a McElroy lay-up with 1:02 left in the half. From there, the Panthers allowed the Broncos to chip away at their lead and took a 36-30 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The second half told a different story as the Panthers were unable to hold on to their lead and claim the win. The Panthers were able to hold off the Broncos until the 11:53 mark when the Panthers fell behind, 49-48 after a Bronco three-pointer. The Panthers allowed the Broncos to go ahead by as many as eight points, 58-50, before a pair of free throws from senior forward Shyim Cunningham with 7:40 left to play. The Panthers would get as close as six points, 62-56, after a Hatchett lay-up with 6:05 left to play. From there, the Panthers were unable to get any closer and ended the night with the 71-61 loss.
The loss marks the first time the Panthers have taken back-to-back losses this season and hampers the team’s chances at claiming the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Southern Division Championship. The team falls to 18-6 overall and 9-6 in CIAA play. The team will close out the regular season when they head to Charlotte, North Carolina to take on the Johnson C. Smith Golden Bulls. For more information on Panthers basketball, contact the Claflin University Office of Athletics Media Relations at (803) 535-5548 or log on to www.athletics.claflin.edu.