Alcorn women put away Southern

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2003

BATON ROUGE &045; December and July are months away, but Alcorn’s women’s team was in the Christmas spirit Tuesday against Southern.

A telling trend for the Lady Braves this season concerned their unselfishness with the ball. Coming into Tuesday’s first-round Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament game with Southern the fifth-seeded Lady Braves were a perfect 10-0 when they had more assists than their opponents.

The fad grew to 11 games for Alcorn, as it dished out 12 assists in a 62-50 victory over the fourth-seeded Lady Jaguars to further its March Madness hopes, just its second win in five games. The win ended Southern’s quest to repeat as tournament champs.

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&uot;We talked when we got back from the Texas trip on Sunday that we had to learn to win when the postseason comes around,&uot; Alcorn head coach Shirley Walker said. &uot;We had to gear into their heads the importance of winning during March Madness or they’d be putting their equipment in mothballs.&uot;

Alcorn (18-11) had four players in double digits scoring, led by Latoya Johnson and Tnonealyer Powers who had 15 each, to advance to Birmingham, Ala. for a semifinal matchup with Alabama State, who beat Mississippi Valley 89-52 on Tuesday.

Southern and Alcorn swapped leads for the first part of the first half until the Lady Jaguars (17-8) looked like they were going to rapidly expand their seven-point advantage.

Angela Bullock put Alcorn’s Tnonealyer Powers on her hip, backed her toward the goal and banked home a bucket with 6:59 to play for the 21-14 lead.

&uot;I thought the kids we had in there at that time played with a lot of passion,&uot; Southern head coach Sandy Pugh said. &uot;We didn’t have anybody coming off the bench for us ready to go.&uot;

Walker got a timeout and changed the pace of the game after Bullock’s two points. Oh, to be a bug flying around in the Lady Braves’ huddle during that 30-second stoppage in play because they came out with a renewed interest in the game.

With unselfish passes, mostly from the bestowing hands of Hall, Alcorn reeled off a 15 unanswered points to take a 29-21 lead with 1:43 left before the break on a Johnson layup.

The sophomore guard from Crystal Springs Johnson had six points in the run that held the Lady Jaguars scoreless for more than six minutes until Monroe buried another triple to cut her team’s deficit to five, 29-24, with 44.7 seconds left before halftime.

&uot;Before we came out tonight, the girls took on some leadership and the girls said to each other, ‘Either we win together or we fall together,’&uot; Walker said. &uot;They had a different attitude than the past several games.&uot;

Alcorn got its first lead of the game, 7-5, when Johnson connected on two points with less than four minutes having ticked off the clock.

Southern reclaimed the advantage, 9-7, when Monroe hit a runner in the lane only to see Levy snatch it right back with her second 3-pointer of the game. It also marked Levy’s 64th trey of the year, which passed Tami Varnado for the single-season 3-pointers’ record at Alcorn.

Levy was so good on her first two 3-point attempts all the ball graced going through the rim was nylon.

&uot;We just came out ready to play. We wanted to go to Alabama (for the SWAC tourney) or die trying,&uot; said Levy, who finished with 13 points. &uot;I can’t say anymore than that. This feels great.&uot;

The Lady Braves built their 4-point halftime lead up to eight quickly in the second half’s opening minutes and were never realistically threatened by Southern.

The Lady Jaguars drew within four, 35-31, when Bullock created an Alcorn turnover and made good on a layup with 17:18 to play.

However, Levy silenced the Lady Jaguar Nation in attendance with her third trey next time down the court for Alcorn.

&uot;The girls were determined to come down here and win,&uot; Walker said. &uot;We knew Southern had some shooters on their team and we told our girls they were going to have to gut it out.&uot;