MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The two-time defending Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Alabama State University women’s basketball team battled the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff before advancing to the tournament semifinals with a 48-46 victory at the Dunn-Oliver Acadome Tuesday night.
“We knew coming in that it was going to be a tough game,” Alabama State University head coach Freda Freeman-Jackson said. “Pine-Bluff is a very good road team, and we knew they could win here because they did already. This is March Madness and anything can happen, and because of that there was a lot of nervous energy before the game.”
The third-seeded Lady Hornets raced out to an 11-point lead in the first half before Arkansas-Pine Bluff stormed back in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 40-all with 2:13 to go. However, the Lady Hornets used a lay-up from Tatyana Calhoun with 1:48 to play to go back on top at 42-40.
That started a 6-0 run for Alabama State as they used a lay-up from Britney Wright, and free throws from Wright and Calhoun to pull out to a 46-40 lead with 22 seconds to play. The lead would go to three at 46-43 before Damya Toney hit a pair of free throws to put the Lady Hornets up 48-43; before Arkansas-Pine Bluff hit a three at the buzzer for the final score.
“Britney (Wright) fought hard inside all night tonight to earn what she got,” Jackson said. “We just have to people step up because we know they are going to double her, and try not to let her get the basketball. We had people do that do tonight, and anytime we can get that it is going to be plus for us.”
The two teams struggled from the beginning of the contest as it took 3:38 for either team to score and it was Wright hitting a lay-up and free throw to put Alabama State up 3-0. The Lady Hornets would extend the lead would grow to five as the Lady Hornets ended the first quarter on 5-0 run, before extending the lead to 14-3 as they extended the run to 11-0 with baskets from Zomoria Clark and Wright.
Alabama State kept the 11-point lead for most of the half and into the second half in front of the home crowd behind timely baskets Ziara Doe, Toney and Wright.
Wright, the SWAC Player of the Year, finished the night with a game-high 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Lady Hornets. Doe finished with 10 points off the bench for the Lady Hornets, while Calhoun added nine rebounds. Alabama State finished the night shooting 32.1 (17-of-53) percent from the floor, including just 15 (3-for-20) from beyond the arc. They also shot 61.1 (11-of-18) percent, while winning the rebounding battle 44-43 and forcing 13 UAPB turnovers.
“We just wanted a chance to get to Houston,” Jackson said. “We know we have a chance now that we are out there, now we just have to make the most of it.”
Niya Head lead Arkansas-Pine Bluff with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Alabama State (14-15) will face second-seeded Texas Southern (21-9) at 6:30 pm Friday evening at the Toyota Center in Houston in the conference semifinals, with the winner advancing to the championship game on Saturday afternoon.
Courtesy: ASU Athletics