In search of answers

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 12, 2003

JACKSON &045; Defense really isn’t the problem. And when the offense isn’t cause of things going wrong, Alcorn State’s Braves can really get rolling.

It took a 20-point deficit in the second half and several of the 7,100 fans in the Williams Athletic and Assembly Center to make things awfully interesting, but the Braves came up short for the second straight game, 76-72, Saturday night to Jackson State to fall to 0-3 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Just like the Texas Southern game Monday, the Braves &045; last year’s SWAC champions &045; fell behind by too much to overcome.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;We don’t have the seniors to give you the kind of leadership you (need),&uot; Alcorn head coach Davey L. Whitney said. &uot;When you have seniors who make mistakes they made tonight, you’re not going to get that.

&uot;We felt like at halftime if we can get to the line and stop the ball, we’ll have a chance to win. I felt we had a chance to win. We had some young guys out there tonight, and I’m proud of the way they hustled.&uot;

The Braves battled back from a 23-point deficit in the second half to cut the lead to two, and they had a chance to tie it up after Dion Callans came up with a steal with Jackson State holding a two-point lead.

Alcorn later cut it to two at 74-72 on a basket from Tori Harris with six seconds left, the Braves had a chance but turned the ball over &045; one of a ugly total of 27 for the game &045; before Jackson State hit three of four free throws in the final four seconds to ice the win.

&uot;We came out, saw all these people up in here and kind of lost our heads,&uot; Jackson State forward Cliff Walker said. &uot;At the end we got a little too complacent. Last year we lost to them in triple overtime.

&uot;We’re trying to be champs. If you’re trying to be champs, you’ve got to beat the champs.&uot;

Slowly but surely the Braves inched back into the game, and it was two free throws from Callans at the 1:20 mark that cut the lead to 72-70 and had everyone who was heading for the gates stop and take notice.

The free throws capped a 15-4 Alcorn run, but Alleo Frazier missed at a chance to put the Braves ahead when his 3-point attempt didn’t fall. Soon after the officials called a double fall on Walker and Alcorn post man Lee Cook under the basket, and it sent both men to the bench, each with their fifth foul.

&uot;I wasn’t too pleased about the officiating, either,&uot; Whitney said. &uot;There was a lot of holding going on and a lot of pushing going on. I think the female (official) did a good job, but I don’t think the other two guys did worth

diddley squat as far as I’m concerned.&uot;

The big Alcorn run started with the unlikeliest of calls &045;Harris getting called for a turnover when he stepped on the baseline while in possession. But the Braves held on defense before getting two baskets from Callans to cut the lead to 68-59.

Harris then returned with a dunk and drew an intentional foul in the process. But he only connected on one of the free throws to trim the lead to 68-62. Cook then put in a basket to cut the lead to 68-64.

&uot;I tried to press the guys we started, and by the end I played my main guys,&uot; Jackson State head coach Andy Stoglin said. &uot;They got tired. I stuck with them, and we gutted it out at the end. We pressed them man to man the whole game. With our smaller lineup, we can do that.&uot;

Jackson State built up its biggest lead at the start of the second half courtesy of a 14-2 run following a 40-29 halftime lead. Ishmael Joyce dunked two points home two minutes in after the Tigers came up with a steal, and he hit two free throws when Alcorn guard Cory Jackson was called for his fifth foul at the 16:23 mark for a 52-31 lead.

Cliff Walker hit two free throws 40 seconds later fro a 54-31 Jackson State lead.

Alcorn then got a dunk from Cook to spark a 9-3 run that ended with a bucket from Frazier at the 11:33 mark to trim the lead to 57-42.