Grambling State Becomes First Team to Win in NCAA Debut in Nearly a Decade


March 25, 2024

It’s hard to ignore a debut like this!

Eleven years after an 0-28 record, HBCU Grambling State won its NCAA tournament debut on Wednesday, Mar. 20, becoming the first team to open 1-0 in the event since Northwestern in 2017. According to ESPN, Grambling closed a 14-point gap in the second half, defeating Montana State 88-81 in overtime.

“To get a first-round win, it’s just amazing,” head coach Donte’ Jackson told ESPN. “That is just major exposure for our program, just letting these guys know that they could have went to all these other big schools and things of that nature, but they chose right by coming to Grambling.” Grambling is the ninth HBCU program to win in the NCAA tournament, the sixth since 2000.


The Tigers’ victory can be attributed to sophomore guard Jimel Cofer, who scored 19 points in the second half. “Even when I’m not playing, I’m locked in on the game because eventually, my name’s going to be called,” Cofer said.

“They’re built on adversity,” Jackson said of his team. “I’ve got a lot of guys that come from underprivileged situations and things of that nature, and adversity is part of life. It’s about how you bounce back when you get in a bad situation.”

The Tigers advanced in the Midwest region and will go on to face the No. 1 seed Purdue in Indianapolis. 


Cover photo: Grambling State Becomes First Team to Win in NCAA Debut in Nearly a Decade / Photo credit: Getty Images

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