Southern nips Alcorn in overtime for big SWAC win

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 2, 2003

BATON ROUGE &045; Church was more than 12 hours away, but Shere Cunningham’s 3-point prayer sent the Southern contingent of the Seymour Gym congregation into Hallelujahs and Amens Saturday night.

With precious seconds dripping away in the game and trailing by three, Cunningham raced over to teammate Rolanda Monroe, who was battling through an Alcorn trap, to bring the ball into the front court.

Cunningham put the brakes on just outside of the 3-point arc, let her Lady Brave defender skirt by and aired out a desperation attempt. It found bottom and sent the game into overtime where the Lady Jaguars eked out a 73-72 Southwestern Athletic Conference victory when Tremesha Colbert dropped in her only field goal of the night with seven seconds left.

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&uot;I didn’t want to let us lose and let everybody down, especially on some of the girls’ last night,&uot; said Cunningham, a junior who finished with 10 points on Senior Night. &uot;I got a great look at the basket and everybody had confidence in me. I shot it and it went in.&uot;

The heave and subsequent overtime bucket from Colbert ruined a coming out night for Alcorn’s Cotronda Thornton, who had game-high 21 points.

The freshman center from Port Gibson High School played 23 minutes as Candace Roberts battled foul trouble and accounted just four points.

&uot;A lot of my teammates, plus me, having been stepping up lately,&uot; Thornton said. &uot;If somebody’s not doing well, I expect myself to step up. We have to get it together and make our free throws on the road down the stretch.&uot;

Thornton was about the only thing that went right for Alcorn inside, as Tnonealyer Powers was held to two baskets as well and missed some a pair of intentional foul free throws down the stretch that would have iced a win.

Instead, Alcorn (16-10, 10-6) head coach Shirley Walker feels with two games left in the season her Lady Braves are on the outside looking in to host a first-round SWAC game.

&uot;If Powers can make those free throws heading into overtime, the game would have been over,&uot; Walker said. &uot;We played tough down the stretch, but our turnovers set us back.&uot;

For the game the Lady Braves had an ugly 2-to-1 turnover-to-assist ratio (24-12), which Southern (16-6, 12-4) turned into 19 points.

Alcorn, who trailed by 12 in the second half, very methodically shimmied its way back from a eight-point deficit.

Zandra Hall, who fell one assists short of a triple-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, converted a jumper after getting her defender to bite on a nice pump fake to narrow the margin to six, 56-50, with 6:06 left. A similar maneuver from LaToya Johnson cut it to four, and finally the Lady Braves regained the lead with consecutive baskets from Thornton.

The second of Thornton’s layups put Alcorn up 62-58 with 2:12 to play to cap a 14-2 run.

&uot;I was glad to see Contronda Thornton come of age tonight,&uot; Walker said. &uot;We’ve been needing that off the bench. She was no where to be found at the beginning of the year, but she’s grown into a weapon for us.&uot;

The Lady Jags never went away, and Alcorn’s inability to knock down charity stripe opportunities was a direct reason for the loss. The Lady Braves, the SWAC’s second-best free-throw shooting team next to Southern, barely broke 50 percent.

Alcorn was also burned by Rolanda Monroe, who led Southern with 19 points and four treys.