Alcorn women hold off Prairie View for SWAC win

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 5, 2003

LORMAN &045; Champions don’t allow themselves to get complacent.

No matter who the opponent is or what the margin might be, winners know how to finish and put a game away.

And, yes, it was just the Southwestern Athletic Conference season opener on Saturday but Alcorn showed little signs of being content with a 19-point halftime lead.

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The Lady Braves (7-4, 1-0) were never threatened in the second half, relenting just a hair within the last 10 minutes to comfortably defeat Prairie View 70-58 Saturday.

Of course it all smells like roses to the innocent, unbiased bystanders.

&uot;I was a little disappointed in how the bench played late in the game,&uot; Alcorn head coach Shirley Walker said. &uot;We had a big lead and we lost it because we made a lot of mistakes when the first five went out. I kept telling them not to look at the score because I knew it would make them relax.&uot;

Alcorn increased a 41-22 margin to as many as 23 at points in the first five minutes after the break only to see the Lady Panthers shave it down to 13 and under in the final five.

The Lady Braves saw their lead grow early on in the second half with what propelled them ahead to begin with: aggressive play. Candace Roberts outmaneuvered her way on backdoor cuts against the taller Tanisha Lee for Alcorn’s first four points of the half.

Keairra Levy, who finished tied for a game-high 18 points, sank two free throws with 15:11 left for a 49-26 lead and it appeared the Lady Braves would cruise the rest of the way.

Prairie View (1-4, 0-1) slowly worked its way back into the game getting to within 13, 62-49 with 3:41 left when Alayniah Teverbaugh knocked down a pair of free throws.

The Lady Panthers got a bucket closer, 66-55, when Latoya Moten hit two from the charity stripe with 1:19 left, but were never able to carve the deficit into single digits.

&uot;We hadn’t played since back in mid-December and it caught up with us,&uot; Prairie View head coach Robert Atkins said. &uot;We needed a couple games under our belt before this one. I was proud of the way we came back in the second half and worked real hard.&uot;

True Atkins’ club had close to a three-week layoff from its last loss to Northwestern State, but Walker feared the Lady Panthers for their inside presence.

It ended up with roles being reversed, as Alcorn’s duo of Tnonealyer Powers and Candace Roberts scored 27 points combined.

Prairie View had its hands full with guards Levy and Zandra Hall, but it focused too much attention on the backcourt combo.

&uot;Prairie View worried about our guard play so much that it opened things up for us on the inside,&uot; Walker said. &uot;I thought (Prairie View) was going to be much stronger than they were.&uot;

Tanisha Lee led the Lady Panthers with 18 points, but only shot 7-of-16 from the field.

After shooting the lights out of the Davey L. Whitney Recreation Complex in the first half at 50 percent, the Lady Braves struggled from the field to finish the night at 42.6 percent while holding Prairie View to just 33.9 percent.

&uot;It hurt me real bad to have such a long layoff between games, but we’ll get better as the season goes on,&uot; Atkins said.

Alcorn, who came into the contest at a dismal 60.9 percent at the free throw line, caught fire, missing just five of its 31 shots for the night.

Alcorn also shot well from behind the 3-point arc to start, hitting on its first two bombs. The second from backup guard LaTriska Jones pushed the Lady Braves out to their biggest lead of the first half up to that point, 20-9, with 9:27 remaining.

Elisha Winters steal-and-score with 5:55 left ended more a three-minute scoring drought, as the Lady Panthers cut into their deficit, 20-13.

Just as Prairie View looked to build some steam and get back into the affair the Lady Braves closed them out. Alcorn continued to pound the ball inside to Powers and Roberts with the guards finding the seams through the defense to get in on the action.

Levy hit her second three of the first half with 51 seconds left to push the lead up to 21, 41-20.

&uot;I’m hoping next game out we’ll do a better job of finishing,&uot; Walker said. &uot;I’m hoping we will overcome our pitfalls and learn from our mistakes.&uot;