HUNTSVILLE __ The Alabama A&M women’s basketball team defeated Alcorn State 74-54 to advance to the conference semifinal round on Tuesday night in the first-ever SWAC Tournament game held in Elmore Gym.
The Lady Bulldogs started fast, ending the first quarter up double-digits and controlled a majority of the game against the Lady Braves.
Five Lady Bulldogs scored in double figures, led by forward Dariauna Lewis who finished the night with 20 points and nine rebounds. Freshmen Je’Naiya Davis and Ariana Powe added 14 and 11 points respectively, along with DeShawna Harper who finished with 12 points and Tierra Dark who added ten of her own in the win.
- The Lady Braves came out highly energetic, scoring off the tip and jumping out to a 6-2 lead in the first minute of play. Consecutive scores inside by forwards Ariana Powe and Dariauna Lewis tied the game at six with 7:39 to go in the opening quarter. The Lady Bulldogs took their first lead on a three by DeShawna Harper with six to play, and extended their lead to 11-6 on their next possession on a fast break score by Jameica Cobb. A&M continued to take control of momentum, scoring seven more unanswered points to go up ten with just under three minutes remaining, a run only calmed by two free throws by Alcorn. Already up double figures, the Lady Bulldogs pushed their lead to 15 after a three from Je’Naiya Davis with under a minute to play in the quarter, concluding the first ten minutes with a score of 23-8.
- A&M carried the momentum into the second quarter, scoring the first six points of the quarter on another Harper three followed by an old fashioned three-point play by Powe after a tremendous find by Nigeria Jones for the assist. The Lady Braves ended their four-minute scoring drought to make the score 29-10 with a basket plus the foul with 8:34 remaining in the half. The Lady Bulldogs extended their lead to a game-high 20 points with six minutes to go in the half, before a three from the wing to beat the shot clock by the Lady Braves put the score at 30-13 heading into the media timeout in the second quarter. Alcorn continued to fight back into the game, finding themselves down 33-21 with 2:10 in the half, however the Lady Bulldogs outscored the Lady Braves 7-2 in the last two minutes to go into the locker room for intermission leading 40-23.
- The Lady Bulldogs started off the second half strong, scoring on two layups on each of their first two possessions to push their lead back up to 20 points at 44-24 in the opening minute of the third. Alcorn responded with a 6-0 run to put the score at 44-30, forcing an A&M timeout with seven minutes remaining. Coming out of the timeout, the Lady Bulldogs used scores by Davis and Tierra Dark to extend their lead to 49-32, and later went back up 20 on a three by Nigeria Jones with just under three minutes to play in the quarter. The Lady Braves responded with a six-point run to make the score 52-38 and force another A&M timeout with 1:34 to play. The two teams traded scores over the remainder of the quarter and the Lady Bulldogs went into the final frame with a 54-41 lead.
- Both squads found their offense early in the fourth, with A&M controlling a 57-46 lead with just over seven minutes to play. The Lady Braves got within single digits at the 5:50 mark and again with 3:40 to play, however A&M continued to respond and keep Alcorn at a distance. With 2:25 to play and up by 10, the Lady Bulldogs scored two straight baskets in the paint to take a commanding 67-53 lead with just under two minutes left and closed out the game 7-1 in route to the 74-54 win.
Coach Richards Comments
- “We are extremely proud of our young ladies because we took it one game at a time and took the year step-by-step. I told our team earlier that we had the talent to win and advance, it’s a new season,” Coach Richards explained post-game. “It wasn’t always pretty but we played as a team, we shared the basketball. Different people stepped up today and that’s what happens in March. We rebounded and took care of the ball well, which was key for us and even when we made mistakes we pushed through and continued to fight to earn the win.”
- Alabama A&M starters: Nigeria Jones, Tierra Dark, Jameica Cobb, Dariauna Lewis, Ariana Powe
- The Lady Bulldogs shot 24-for-63 (38.1 percent) from the field as a team for the game, 20-for-31 (64.5 percent) from the three-point line and 20-for-31 from the charity stripe (64.5 percent).
- A&M dominated the battle of the painted area, scoring 32 points in the paint to just 18 by Alcorn State.
- The Lady Bulldogs also won the rebounding battle in the matchup, outrebounding the Lady Braves 43-39. A&M grabbed 19 offensive boards for 21 second chance points, compared to the 13 offensive rebounds and just eight second chance points for Alcorn.
- Bench production also favored A&M in the contest, as the Lady Bulldog bench outscored the Lady Brave bench 26-16 on the night. Two Lady Bulldogs off the bench scored in double figures (Davis- 14, Harper-12).
- Turnovers: A&M also won the turnover battle, forcing Alcorn State into 20 turnovers and scored 22 points off the miscues. The Lady Bulldogs turned the ball over 13 times and allowed 10 points off of their mistakes.
- With their win over Alcorn, Coach Richards and the Lady Bulldogs set a new program high for Division I wins in a single season at 17 and counting.
The Lady Bulldogs will face #1 seed Jackson State after their victory over #8 Alabama State on Friday, at noon in the semifinal round of the SWAC Tournament, held in Bartow Arena in Birmingham.