Braves rally by Valley, net first SWAC win

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 18, 2003

LORMAN &045; This one was as about as tight as Lafayette Stribling’s knee-length white silk suit with the red and white handkerchief in the front pocket and the matching red patent leather shoes.

Oh, but they’ll be dancing the night away in Lorman for the next few evenings as the hometown Braves finally got a win this season in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Junior forward Brian Jackson hit on five 3-pointers, three of which came in the second half, as Alcorn (3-14, 1-4) wrestled away a classic SWAC battle from Mississippi Valley State (3-10, 2-2), 76-69.

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&uot;I’ve been working on my shot all week and I was in the zone there for a while,&uot; said Jackson, who finished with a team-high 23 points. &uot;I’ve been off on a lot of shots of late, but I came in tonight and hit my open shots.&uot;

Jackson bombs with 8:26 and 7:36 to play cut what was once a six-point deficit to two, 59-57. After enduring a run, which put them behind by several baskets the Braves finally made a push of their own. Including Jackson’s second consecutive trey, Alcorn used an 8-0 streak to jump back ahead.

A Myles Howard fade-away tied it and a Jason Cable 3 &045; his only points of the night &045; put the Braves up, 62-59, and got the Reservation chanting.

The lead grew to five, 68-63, on a give-and-go with Howard receiving the benefits with 2:12 to play.

Close to a minute later the Braves matched their biggest lead of the night, 70-63, with a pair of freebies from DeAndre Jones.

&uot;I thought this was the first competitive game we’ve played all season all the way through,&uot; Alcorn head coach Davey Whitney said. &uot;That was the best effort on both ends of the floor we’ve had all year. It was good defensively and offensively.&uot;

In the first five minutes of the second half there were four ties and four lead changes. Neither team maintained above a basket lead. A Jones 3-pointer 37 seconds in gave Alcorn a lead it soon relinquished on consecutive baskets from Michael Archie and Solomon Forbes with 17:11 left.

With the exception of another Jackson bomb and a bucket from center Lee Cook to give Alcorn one-point leads, the score mainly see-sawed between a Valley lead and ties for the next six minutes of the game.

Deuces from Forbes, Willie Neal and Archie capped a 6-0 Devils’ run for a 57-51 lead with 8:55 to play.

&uot;If we hadn’t had Archie tonight, I don’t know what the score would’ve been,&uot; Stribling said of his freshman guard who scored a career-high 29. &uot;We couldn’t get any outside shots and that’s where we excel the most. Michael did a good job, but you can’t depend on one man.&uot;

For the game the Devils shot 37.5 percent from the floor and made just three of their 21 3-point attempts &045; a place where Jackson and Alcorn flourished.

Jackson was 5-of-9 for the game and the team shot just over 44 percent from long range.

&uot;We lost those four games and coach just kept telling us to keep our heads up,&uot; Jackson said. &uot;There’s really no favorite in the SWAC, so if we can put a string of wins together we could come out on top.&uot;

Each team held four leads in the opening 20 minutes, but none grew any larger than Alcorn’s 21-14 lead that came on two free throws from Dion Callans with 12:36 to play.

There were four lead changes alone in the last four and 1/2 minutes of action before intermission. Jackson gave the Braves their last lead of the half with a three-point play at the 2:02 mark for a 33-31 advantage.

Nearly a minute later Jackson connected on the back end of a two-shot foul for a 34-31 lead.

&uot;Winning conference championships are one thing,&uot; Whitney said. &uot;We’re trying to get this team ready for the conference tournament since that’s where it matters if you make it to the big (NCAA) tournament or not,&uot; Whitney said. &uot;This team is a lot better than the record we have. I’m happy we were able to get a win and out of the slump.&uot;