PEMBROKE, N.C. - Armstrong State University freshman Kalen Clifton's three-pointer from 28 feet out at the buzzer lifted the Pirates to an 87-84 Peach Belt Conference men's basketball victory over host UNC Pembroke on Saturday afternoon in Pembroke, N.C.
The win was the third straight for the Pirates (9-11, 4-7 PBC), while UNC Pembroke falls to 14-6 overall and 7-4 in the PBC. Armstrong State returns to action on Monday, hosting Flagler at 7:30 p.m. at Alumni Arena.
UNC Pembroke led by eight points, 39-31, at halftime and stretched that lead to 11 points, 64-53, on a Nigel Grant layup with 12:36 remaining in the second half.
A three-pointer by junior KJ James with 6:38 remaining sparked an 8-0 run that closed the Pirates to within three, 73-70, with 5:20 to go. The Braves would extend that lead back out to six points, 84-78, on a Mike Smith three-point play that also resulted in James fouling out with 21 points in the contest.
Clifton made a free throw with 1:42 left to cut the lead to five, then after a turnover by the Braves, junior Denzel Council tipped in his own missed shot to make the score 84-81 with 1:07 remaining. A missed three-pointer by the Braves' Alex Bradley was rebounded by the Pirates, who then got a three-pointer from Clifton to tie the game at 84-all with 40 seconds left.
UNC Pembroke ran the clock down on its next possession and Bradley missed a go-ahead three-point attempt with nine seconds left. Junior Jamison Jeffers secured the rebound and brought the ball up the court quickly, handing off to Clifton, who shot from well behind the arc and banked in the shot as time expired for the win.
The Pirates shot 54.1 percent from the floor in the second half (20-of-37), including hitting 8-of-15 three-pointers (53 percent) and 8-of-9 free throws (88.9 percent) in the come-from-behind win.
Clifton led four Pirates in double figures with his season-high 28 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the floor, including 5-of-6 from three-point range and 3-of-4 from the free throw line. James tallied 21 points, while freshman Corey Tillery added 19 points and Council finished with 14 points. Jeffers had only two points but delivered seven assists, had six rebounds and corralled three steals.
UNC Pembroke placed six players in double figures, led by 13 points each from Brandon Watts and Carson Mounce. James Murray-Boyles collected 12 points, while Grant finished with 11 points. Smith and Akia Pruitt chipped in 10 points apiece.