Grambling State men’s basketball wins program’s first NCAA tournament game

In a historic moment for Grambling State men’s basketball, the team secured its maiden NCAA tournament victory on Wednesday. The No. 16-seeded Tigers triumphed over Montana State, also seeded at 16, with an 88-81 overtime win in the First Four.

The standout performance came from guard Jimel Cofer, who lit up the court with a career-high 19 points, a significant leap from his season average of 2.8 points. This stellar display fueled an extraordinary comeback by the team, which had trailed by as much as 14 points in the second half. Grambling State orchestrated two impressive 11-0 runs, seizing control from the Bobcats.

Contributions weren’t limited to Cofer; senior guard Jourdan Smith contributed 18 points and nine rebounds, while forward Antwan Burnett added another 18 points to the scoreboard.

Reflecting on his standout performance, Cofer expressed gratitude for his teammates’ support, emphasizing the team’s collective ability to shine when it matters most.

The First Four tournament segment, featuring four No. 16 seeds and four No. 10 seeds, sets the stage for March Madness. Grambling State’s head coach, Donte’ Jackson, hailed the team’s historic feat as “incredible,” emphasizing the resilience required in March Madness battles.

Next up for the Tigers is a showdown with the top-seeded Purdue Boilermakers in the Midwest Regional. Despite bookmakers ranking Purdue as the third favorite to win the tournament, behind UConn and Houston, Jackson remains focused on the immediate challenge. Named the 2023-24 SWAC coach of the year, Jackson stressed the need for meticulous preparation, particularly in strategizing against Purdue’s formidable center, Zach Edey.

As the team gears up for this daunting task, Jackson’s message is clear: embrace the underdog status, focus on the game plan, and let the chips fall where they may.