BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama State Hornets and the Prairie View A&M Lady Panthers each won both the regular season and tournament titles in SWAC Basketball this season and have earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
Alabama State will take on Ohio Valley Conference tournament champion Morehead State in the Opening Round Game in Dayton, OH Tuesday at 6:30p.m. CT on ESPN.
Prairie View A&M will be the 16th seed in the Oklahoma City regional and will face #1 seed Oklahoma, the Big 12 regular season
champ, Sunday in Iowa City, IA.
It is the third NCAA Tournament appearance for the Hornets, who also were in the Big Dance in 2001 and 2004. Prairie View A&M will make its second NCAA Tournament appearance; its first coming just two seasons ago.
The Hornets arrived in Dayton shortly before noon Monday, and had a brisk 50-minute practice session Monday evening at University of Dayton Arena, site of Tuesday’s game.
Alabama State, under fourth-year Head Coach Lewis Jackson, won their second straight SWAC regular season title, posting a 16-2 conference record. ASU had eight and seven-game winning streaks in conference play, and clinched the title outright on the final day of the regular season with a victory at Grambling State.
Led by Conference Player of the Year Brandon Brooks, Defensive Player of the Year Chief Kickingstallionsims and Coach of the Year Jackson, the Hornets went 19-9 to become the first SWAC men’s team to win back-to-back titles since Alcorn State (1999, 2000).
In the SWAC Tournament, the Hornets downed in-state rival Alabama A&M, Univ-Arkansas Pine Bluff and Jackson State to claim the crown. Tournament MVP Andrew Hayles led the Hornets with 17 points in the title game as the Hornets claimed their first SWAC Tournament Title since 2004.
The Lady Panthers of fourth-year head coach and Basketball Hall of Fame finalist Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, ended the regular season with 16 consecutive wins en route to its third consecutive season with at least a share of the regular season title.
Conference Player of the Year Gaati Werema and first-team All-SWAC performer Candice Thomas led Prairie View A&M, which won 17 of 18 conference games in posting a 20-10 regular season record as the Lady Panthers became the first team since Grambling State (1997-2000) to win at least three consecutive regular season titles.
Prairie View extended their winning streak to 19 games with a trio of wins in the SWAC Tournament. MVP Werema led the Lady Panthers to wins over Grambling State, UAPB and Southern to bring home its second tournament title in three seasons.
Now each team seeks NCAA Tournament success. Alabama State will look to become the first men’s SWAC team since Southern in 1993 to post an NCAA Tourney win. A victory by Prairie View A&M would be the first ever by a women’s SWAC team in the NCAA Tournament.