By Darrion Gray
“The revenge game!!!… [lady Panthers] are focused on revenge.” These words come directly from Prairie View’s pregame handouts. Clearly the cliche of ‘just another game’ wasn’t applicable. Coming into the game, the lady Panthers were riding a four game winning streak and sitting at the top of the SWAC standings. Even with the current success, Prairie View still had a bad taste in their mouth from the previous matchup. That game ended with a score of 52 to 44 in favor of Texas Southern. This, however, was not the night that revenge would be captured.
In a game that could have went either way, it was Texas Southern on top once again when the clock hit triple zeros with a score of 73-67.
In the 4th quarter, the game fully epitomized what this rivalry means. These two teams don’t like each other. Through the last 10 minutes, the disdain the players had was on full display. The play that seemingly started it all was a vicious block attempt by Catherine Okwilagwe on the Lady Panther’s Shala Dobbins. On what could have been a regular play, Okwilagwe followed through after connecting with the ball and connected with Dobbins’ face. Dobbins dropped to the ground and Okwilagwe was charged with a foul. Though it appeared to be accident, it was taken as a declaration looking back at it. The game only got chippier from there with Niya Mitchell being at the center of it all.
The next altercation came in a loose ball situation where Mitchell stepped on Jhyrah Cobbs chest while trying to get up. This was the first time the teams had to be separated. Mitchell was not ejected but it wasn’t the last time trouble came her way. Up six points with less than a minute left in the game TSU’s Alaysia Ready drove down the court with victory in sight. Instead of going for the regular intentional foul, Dobbins sprinted towards Ready and tackled her to the ground. The response was Dobbins getting her second technical and promptly being ejected from the game. An ejection was inevitable, and it had been trending that way since the beginning of the 4th quarter. You can’t put water on a burner and not expect steam. If you mix together the game hype, the stakes involved, and the rivalry itself, tensions were bound to boil over. The chippiness was sarcastically described by Cunningham as “mess talking and friendly play.”
Though it’s always great to score a victory over the hated lady Panthers, most importantly it shows that the lady Tigers can compete with the top teams in the SWAC. Cunningham ended with 19-points and some clutch scores in the 4th. These late buckets helped the team sustain their lead on the way to victory. After the hard fought win, the team now has a week off before traveling to face Grambling State. Tempers should have cooled by then since Grambling isn’t a heated rival.