LORMAN, Miss. – The Alcorn State University men’s basketball program withstood a 14-2 run in the final four minutes to hang on and defeat Mississippi Valley State 63-60 in the first round of the SWAC Championships on Tuesday at the Davey L. Whitney Complex.
Alcorn (17-13, 13-5 SWAC), the No. 2 seed, was up 59-46 at the four-minute mark when the seventh-seeded Delta Devils (7-25, 7-11 SWAC) came storming back. They chipped away with a 5-0 run to make it 59-51, and after a pair of free throws by senior Denzel Dulin, MVSU used a 9-0 spurt to cut it to a one-point game with 45 seconds left.
After a charging call was made on the Braves, the Delta Devils had a chance to take the lead, but a steal by Dulin with 6.5 seconds proved to be the biggest play of the night. Dulin then drained a pair of free throws, and a contested last-second three-pointer by MVSU was off the mark.
Junior A.J. Mosby led the Braves with 17 points and six rebounds. Junior Reginal Johnson, an All-Conference Second-Team honoree, neared a double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds, and Dulin was also a heavy contributor with 13 points and eight rebounds. Dulin was also seven-for-eight from the free throw line.
MVSU was guided by All-Conference First-Team selection Marcus Romain’s game-high 29 points. Rashaan Surles aided the attack with 17 points.
It was a defensive battle early as both teams were getting stops; MVSU held a slight 4-3 edge after six minutes. An and-one by Dulin, followed by a long-range shot by Mosby gave Alcorn a 9-6 advantage with 12:18 remaining.
The Braves led 12-10 when the Delta Devils answered with a 6-0 run to go up 16-12 at the 9:07 mark.
Still down 18-14, a lay-up by senior DeAndre Davis and a three-pointer by Mosby in the left corner put the Braves back on top 19-18 with 7:28 to go.
The Braves played the final five minutes of the half strong, ending it on a 13-4 spurt. It started with a 9-0 run capped by a finger-role lay-up by Dulin to go up 32-25 with 2:33 left. A mid-range jumper by Johnson on Alcorn’s final possession pushed the lead to 38-29 at the intermission.
The first four minutes of the second half were chippy as the Delta Devils were already in the bonus at the 16:03 mark. A three-pointer by Romain got MVSU’s deficit down to 45-39 with 13:04 remaining.
The Braves then found the hot hand in Johnson who recorded a three-pointer, tip-in and fast-break lay-up to go in front 53-41 at the 10:27 mark. A basket in the post by Davis increased the edge to 55-41 with 9:00 left.
MVSU hung around late and used a big run to get back in it 61-55 with 1:51 left. Surles then hit a three-pointer to slice the lead down to just 61-58 with 1:24 to go. The Delta Devils made it a one-point game, 61-60 after a drive by Romain with 45 seconds remaining.
After a charging foul was called on Alcorn, the Delta Devils had it down by one with 22.3 seconds left. Romain tried to drive to the bucket, but the ball was stolen by Dulin in the paint and he was fouled with 6.5 ticks remaining. Dulin made both free throws, and MVSU’s three-pointer by Surles in the end was wide.
The Braves will move on to Houston for an 8:30 p.m. tip at the Toyota Center in the semifinals of the SWAC Championships. They will play either No. 3 Southern or No. 6 Jackson State. Alcorn swept the season series against both teams this year.
Courtesy: Alcorn State Athletics