Courtesy of Alabama State Athletics
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. | No. 3 seed Alabama State built a double-digit lead in the first half and built on that lead in the second half as they ran past No. 7 seed Grambling State 74-59 at Bartow Arena on Friday afternoon in the semifinals of the Cricket Wireless SWAC Basketball Tournament presented by Mountain Dew.
Alabama State ran out to a 10-point lead at the break 34-24 before building that to a 20-point lead with 4:09 to play in the game to advance to their second consecutive championship game in Birmingham. Jayla Crawford (Birmingham, Ala.) rebounded from her quarterfinal performance to lead the Hornets with 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor including a pair of three-pointers.
Shmya Ward (Memphis, Tenn.) scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Ayana Emmanuel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) recorded a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. She also added a pair of assists and a pair of steals in the win.
“This was a huge win for us, they beat us twice earlier this year by 30-something and then we were up on them by 16 last week before they came back. I knew they had a lot of fight in them, and we did a really good job of keeping our composure. They came out and did the same thing they did last week and pounded the ball into the paint, so we went to a zone defense and executed it well. We were strategic in the number of minutes our starters played because I knew the last three or four games we played; teams were walking us down. I wanted to keep our starters fresh, and the girls who came off the bench were able to execute and contribute today. Ayana (Emmanuel) felt like she was not going to be stopped today, she came out aggressive after the way they shut her down last time we played.”Alabama State head coach Freda Freeman-Jackson
- For the second straight game, Alabama State used their defense to pull away from their opponent, holding Grambling State to just 31.7 (20-of-63) percent shooting from the floor and just 19.0 (4-of-21) percent from beyond the arc.
- The big three of Crawford, Ward, and Emmanuel combined for 60 of the Hornets’ 74 points and outscored the entire Grambling State team by a point.
- Alabama State took just eight three-pointers on the day out of their 61 total attempts, outscoring Grambling State 42-28 in the paint.
- The Hornets assisted on 14 of their 27 baskets during the game with Hannah White (Columbus, Ga.) and DaKiyah Sanders (Birmingham, Ala.) combining for half of the team’s assists.
- The two teams traded baskets early, forcing Grambling State to call a time out with 3:41 to play in the opening quarter. The Hornets grabbed a 16-10 lead at that point in the game led by Emmanuel with six points through the first six-plus minutes.
- Over the final 3:41 of the first quarter, the two teams combined for just four points before combining for 28 in the second quarter.
- Alabama State built the lead to double digits in the opening half before Grambling State had a chance to cut the lead down on a missed three-pointer at the buzzer.
- The Tigers fought back in the third quarter, trimming the deficit to seven in the third quarter, before Alabama State was able to pull away for a 13-point lead.
- Alabama State was able to pull away in the fourth quarter with easy baskets down the stretch by Emmanuel and Crawford.
- Alabama State will face No. 1 seed Jackson State in the championship game on Saturday. The Hornets dropped a game to Jackson State earlier this season.
- The Hornets dropped a one-point game to Jackson State in last year’s championship game.