Alcorn uses run in victory

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 11, 2002

LORMAN &045; Yes, you can survive a 21-2 run in the second half.

That’s a true statement.

Go ahead and argue that, but Alcorn’s Lady Braves might be just too young and scrappy to give in to conventional wisdom. They could barely get a shot off in the first eight minutes of the second half, but the last 12 was plenty for them to regroup and take a 77-73 win over South Alabama Wednesday night in their first regular season game in the Davey L. Whitney Complex.

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The win is believed to be the first for the Lady Braves over a Sun Belt Conference opponent.

&uot;One thing I can say is these kids have heart,&uot; Alcorn head coach Shirley Walker said. &uot;Everybody pitched in. We had some people down. We lost (LaToya) Johnson, who is one of our key people, and we had a breakdown in (Monica) Anderson, who has been consistent for us. We played with heart, and that’s the first time I’ve seen our girls like that.&uot;

What they did was turn the tables the best they could &045; although the Jaguars didn’t finish as horrendous as the Lady Braves started the first half. But Alcorn did finish the game on a 19-5 run, holding the Jaguars to just two field goals &045; both 3-pointers &045; in the final seven minutes.

The second 3-pointer came from Taneisha Russell with 18 seconds left that cut the lead to 74-73, but Alcorn got one of two free throws from Zandra Hall a second later before Samantha McDole missed a shot that would have tied it up with eight seconds left.

Alcorn got the ball back and drew a foul, and Hall hit both free throws with six seconds left to seal it.

&uot;We ran out of gas,&uot; USA head coach Rick Pietri said. &uot;Our bench group didn’t give us what they have to give us. As a result, our starters had to play more minutes. We didn’t get a break tonight. But when you go on the road, those kinds of things can happen. But Alcorn took it to us &045; plain and simple. We had the game, and they took it from us.&uot;

After using a balanced attack earlier, the Lady Braves went more inside late in the game to help chip away at the lead. Sophomore post Tnonealyer Powers hit a bucket inside with 1:55 left to cut the lead to 70-67, and the Jaguars turned it over on their next possession.

Danielle Tipton &045; who finished with a game-high 20 points &045; got a defender to bite on a head fake before driving the baseline, hitting a layup and drawing a foul. Tipton converted the three-point play to tie the score at 70-70 with 1:32 left.

&uot;We knew they were going to step up,&uot; said Tipton, also a sophomore. &uot;We had to come out here ready to play. We had to play strong defense and strong offense. We went inside a lot. We play real strong down there.&uot;

Tipton, however, wasn’t finished.

After another Jaguar turnover, she drained a 3-pointer at the 1:11 mark to give the Lady Braves their first lead in more than 17 minutes.

&uot;When she (Tipton) looked down at the 3-point line, I had my fingers crossed and said, ‘She has confidence, and she has heart,’&uot; Walker said. &uot;That was the key point right there. She’s pretty smart on the court.&uot;

That followed with USA starting post Genevieve Delk getting whistled for a fifth foul when sophomore reserve post Candace Roberts took a charge in the paint.

South Alabama got the ball back, but Sara Carter didn’t hit anything on an attempt from behind the 3-point line.

All that, however, seemed like wishful thinking the way the second half started out for the Lady Braves. South Alabama never strayed from its man-to-man defense, and the second half the Jaguars just suffocated Alcorn in taking the 21-2 run.

Quiana Mitchell started it with a bucket, and plenty of ASU steals and turnovers later Courtney Stewart finished the run with a bucket at the 12:00 mark for a 58-43 lead.

&uot;I thought we had breakdowns on offense and defense,&uot; Walker said. &uot;I’m looking at a senior guard on the bench. I think the turnovers were the reason we had that breakdown.

&uot;Zandra (Hall) came in and got those three fouls. South Alabama has always had a really good team. They don’t have a lot of height, but they have smart ball players.&uot;

to cut the lead to 58-47. She followed that with another bucket, and Keairra Levy and Roberts followed that with two free throws apiece to trim the lead to 58-53 with 9:23 left.

&uot;We had the game, and they took it from us,&uot; Pietri said. &uot;That’s a credit to Alcorn’s kids and their coaching staff. In the first half Alcorn got every look they wanted. We talked about raising the level of intensity in the second half, and we did. Our problem was sustaining it.&uot;

The Lady Braves really started to heat up with the inside game at the end of the first half against USA’s man-to-man. Candace Roberts’ bucket in the paint started an 11-0 Alcorn run that ended with a basket from Levy for a 36-29 lead with 3:11 left.

South Alabama held control for the most part prior to that point, building a four-point lead on three occasions with the last being on a basket from Jana Banovska at the 5:45 mark for a 29-25 lead before ASU went on its run.

&uot;This ranks high because we’re coming off wins, but we really wanted to come out and play well,&uot; Tipton said. &uot;We knew they were tough competition and a good team, and we wanted to come out, play hard and win.&uot;