HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – A career-high 27 points by sophomore guard Garrett Hicks helped Alabama A&M (4-0, 2-0 SWAC) defeat SWAC opponent Southern (3-5, 3-1 SWAC) 68-58 Saturday in Elmore Gym.
Hicks led the way for the Bulldogs with 27 points, shooting 10-for-17 from the field including seven three-pointers, along with four rebounds and three assists. Sophomore forward Jalen Johnson also scored in double figures, finishing with 19 points and five rebounds of his own, while sophomore guard Cameron Tucker added eight points and five assists on the afternoon.
At the opening tip, the Jaguars started out fast, scoring the first nine points of the game and holding the Bulldogs scoreless for nearly the first three minutes of the game.
Alabama A&M responded with their first score on a three by Tucker sparking a 10-0 run which included baskets from Johnson and a three from freshman guard Dailin Smith to put the Bulldogs up 10-9 at the 14:32 mark.
Southern ended their scoreless stretch two possessions later with consecutive inside scores before Johnson picked up his sixth point of the half to make the score 13-12 with 12:37 to play in the half.
Just over a minute later, with the Jaguars leading 15-12, the teams traded scores before Hicks tied the ball game at 17-17 with his first three-pointer with just over 10 minutes to play.
Coming out of the under eight timeout, Terrell Williams sank two free throws to put the Jaguars up 22-19 at the 7:07 mark before Johnson scored on a layup seconds later to reach double figures with 10 points. Hicks then followed that with consecutive baskets to give the Bulldogs a 27-23 lead with 4:05 to play in the half.
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SU’s Harrison Henderson responded after the media timeout with a four-point run of his own to tie the contest yet again, this time at 27-27 with three minutes remaining, before Alabama A&M took a 31-29 lead after a layup by Tucker at the 2:06 mark.
With 22 seconds in the half, Hicks sank another three to put the Bulldogs up five, their largest lead of the half, before Southern’s Henderson sank a pair of free throws at the end of the period, giving the Bulldogs a 34-31 lead going into the locker room at halftime.
The Jaguars opened the scoring once more in the second half with an inside score from LaMarcus Lee, however, the Bulldogs responded with a layup by Johnson and another three from Hicks to extend to a 39-33 lead a minute and a half into the second.
After Henderson’s first points of the frame and 19th of the night, Alabama A&M stretched their lead out to eight twice, 43-35 at the 16:04 mark and 45-37 during their next offensive possession with 15:31 to play. Jayden Saddler of Southern responded with a bucket and the foul, reducing the lead to 45-40 before Hicks hit his fourth three of the game, making the score 48-40 with 12:34 left to play.
After scoreless trips on both sides, Andre Allen sank a free throw for the Jaguars at the 9:56 mark, however, the Bulldogs proceeded to ignite a 12-5 run fueled by three points from Johnson and three consecutive long balls from Hicks to find themselves up 60-45, the largest lead of the game, with just under four minutes to play.
The Jaguars battled back to cut the deficit to single digits, finding themselves down just eight, 64-58, after another basket by Henderson with 1:29 to play. They would come no closer, however, as the Bulldogs sealed the victory by sinking four free throws to close out the game and take home the 68-58 win.
Henderson, the lone Jaguar in double figures, posted a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds on the afternoon. LaMarcus Lee added seven points and four rebounds, while Jayden Saddler added seven points and a team-high four assists.
The Bulldogs are back in action on Monday as they take on Alcorn State at 6 p.m. in Elmore Gymnasium.
Alabama A&M (4-0, 2-0 SWAC) has started off SWAC play with two consecutive wins for the first time since the 2013-14 season and are 4-0 for the first time in the Division I Era (since 1998-99).
The victory marks the first Bulldog win over Southern since a 68-62 win on January 26, 2019.
Sophomore Garrett Hicks has made seven threes in a game twice this season – seven is tied for second all-time for threes made in a game.
Courtesy: AAMU Athletics