Braves struggle shooting in loss at Jacksonville State

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 9, 2004

JACKSONVILLE, Ala. &045; Alcorn State’s Braves struggled shooting from the field Tuesday before dropping a 74-41 decision to Jacksonville State on the road.

The Braves made just five field goals the entire first half and trailed 40-18 at halftime. They fared better in the second half, but the Gamecocks shot nearly 60 percent after the break to put the game away.

James Denson tossed in 16 points to lead four Gamecocks in double-figures. Scott Watson finished with 11 points, followed by Trent Eager and Josh Perry’s 10 points each.

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Jacksonville State shot a season-high 56.0 percent from the field for the game, hitting 28 of 50. Meanwhile, Alcorn finished with a season-low shooting percentage of 25.5 percent (14 of 55) and hit just 5 of 28 in the first half.

The Gamecocks jumped out to a 20-2 lead over the first nine minutes of the game as the Braves missed their first 17 field goals of the game. Dion Callans hit two free throws for the Braves one minute into the game, and they didn’t get a field goal until Ray Dotson put in a jumper with 10:55 left.

Trent Eager hit a 3-pointer with 2:06 left in the first to put the lead at 38-16 before JSU then built the 22-point lead at the intermission. It was the fifth time JSU held an opponent to less than 20 points in the opening half under Mike LaPlante’s four-year tenure.

&uot;I was really pleased with our focus, especially with the way we came out and set the tone with our defense and our execution to open the game,&uot; LaPlante said after JSU improved to 5-0 at home this season.

Jax State continued to dominate in the second half, leading by as many as 35 points over the final 20 minutes. JSU sank 13 of 22 shots (59.1 percent) over the second half and finished the game with 27 fast break points, while limiting Alcorn State to just two transition points.

The Gamecocks forced 21 turnovers, while dishing out a season-best 18 assists. Walker Russell finished with 10 assists and becomes the first player to have double-digit assists this season.

Dotson hit a bucket with 10:28 left in the second half to cut the lead to 50-33, the tightest margin of the half. But the Gamecocks got a 3-pointer from James Denson to answer and spark a 14-0 run that ended with a 3-pointer from Walker Russell at the 5:01 mark for a 64-33 lead.

Callans led the Braves with 10 points.