Devilettes hold on to beat Lady Hornets
Ashley Brown’s 12 points and 11 rebounds helped lead Mississippi Valley to an upset win. The sixth-seeded Mississippi Valley State Devilettes pulled the first upset of the 2009 SWAC women’s tournament by surviving a furious Alabama State rally in a 48-43 win Thursday aftenoon.
“I thought it was a great game,” said MVSU head coach Nathaniel Kilbert. Every time we play the Alabama State kids, it’s a great game. I’m proud to be a part of it and just glad that we won.”
The teams split two earlier meetings this season, with Valley winning by four at home and losing in triple overtime at second-seeded ASU.
“Coming into this game, we spent a lot of time concentrating on the things they had done to hurt us in our previous matchups,” Kilbert said. “We wanted to limit their scoring around the basket and make sure that #50 (Erica Lumpkin) didn’t get any jump shots.”
Neither team shot well before halftime, with Valley only hitting 24% while ASU connected at a 28% clip. The teams also combined to force 16 turnovers and make 10 steals. The Devilettes held Alabama State to the second lowest-first half output of the season and took a 22-17 lead into halftime.
MVSU held a solid lead through most of the second half, behind the strong and surprising performance of Michelle Message. The senior forward, totaled 13 points and 10 rebounds, made play after play – many of which stopped Alabama State runs.
“Who?” Kilbert joked. “Michelle hasn’t played like this all season. Sometimes she travels when she makes her move inside. But if she continues to play the way she played tonight, we’ll win this tournament.”
Aided by the solid effort of Ashley Brown (12 points and 11 rebounds), Valley built an apparently insurmountable 10 point lead with only 4:22 remaining. But the Lady Hornets, as they’d done all season, fought back.
“There is no quit in this team,” said Freda Freeman-Jackson, ASU’s head coach. “They’ve been fighting all season. Not much was expected of them, but they decided to set their own expectations.”
Trailing 43-33, ASU’s Jakayla Hill and Shanice Merritt hit four straight free throws, followed by L’Teisha Holloway inside basket and a put back by Erica Lumpkin and the Lady Hornets were within two. That’s when Messaga hit a turnaround jumper to push the lead back to four. Lumpkin scored again, but Valley hit three of four free throws to complete the win.
“We dedicated our season to our teammate (Richelle Jones),” said ASU senior forward Britney Harris. “When she died in a car wreck this season, we dedicated every minute, every practice and every game to her. Through all of our obstacles, we stuck together. Even though we lost today, we still played for her and we are proud of our effort.”
Tanika Jackson led ASU(14-16) with 11 points.
Mississippi Valley State (13-18) advances to face Southern at noon on Friday.