Sims, Gardner shoot lights out from long range in ‘W’
Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 31, 2004
LORMAN &045; Shikhia Sims and Alicia Garnder can live by the 3-pointer.
Not die, mind you, because neither of them would really give up that easily. But on a team that’s last in the SWAC in both 3-pointers made and attempted, Sims and Gardner came up big for the Alcorn Lady Braves in a 74-71 win over a good Alabama State team Saturday.
The pair combined for seven 3-pointers in the contest, including Sims’ huge triple with 10 seconds left that broke open a 71-71 tie.
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&uot;We hadn’t won at home, and we were wanting to get one at home,&uot; said Gardner, who along with Sims scored 16 points. &uot;I think the team and the players have confidence in our shot now. We just believe. It’s all about the coaches &045; we believe in them, and they believe in us.&uot;
The eight 3-pointers were a season-high for the team that’s got an entirely new set of guards from last year. But Sims and Gardner finally were at a point where they could feel comfortable and get in a rhythm.
What better time for it to happen than against Alabama State, the defending SWAC champions with athletic 6-5 Crystal Kitt in the middle. And leading scorer LaToya Johnson sat out the contest.
&uot;I thought the girls played well,&uot; Alcorn head coach Shirley Walker said. &uot;We knew and they knew we would have our hands full. We knew Alabama State was going to come at us with a very, very fine ball club. We told them to believe in themselves.&uot;
Sims surely didn’t doubt anything when she got an open look at the basket with 10 seconds left. The Lady Braves got the ball inside on a fast break after Catrina Fincher missed from the corner and got it inside to freshman Rasaan Powell.
Powell, who also finished with 16 points, kicked it out to Sims for the triple to break the tie.
The Lady Hornets got it back, but Rhonda Brown’s 3-point attempt didn’t go.
&uot;It was about that time,&uot;&160;Sims said. &uot;We’ve got a player injured, and it’s time to step it up. We’re playing like a team now. I think my teammates believe in us now. At the end of the game they knew where I was at.
I just feel real confident with my shot right now.&uot;
Either of the team took turns nailing a bucket at times throughout the game to keep the Lady Hornets at bay. Alabama State took its first lead of the game when Kitt &045;&160;who finished with 24 and 16 in the second half &045; put in a bucket with 3:54 left for a 66-65 lead.
Kitt did it again with 3:26 left for a 68-66 Bama State lead. After the Lady Hornets got a 3-pointer from Frantina Coleman with 1:52 left for a 71-69 lead, Sims converted a layup to tie the score with 46 seconds left.
&uot;The biggest problem was we couldn’t play any defense tonight,&uot;&160;Bama State assistant Clayton Harris said. &uot;We’re one of the best defensive teams in the league, and Alcorn got 74 points. Defense has cost us the last three games. We’ve lost the last three games in the last couple of couple of possessions. It comes down to what? Defense.&uot;
The Lady Braves were in control most of the game and kept answering every Bama State run in the second half. After the Lady Hornets cut it to 55-51, Tawny Whiting put in a 3-pointer before Powell tossed in a 2-pointer for a 60-51 lead.
A Kitt bucket with 6:23 cut it to 60-59, but Garnder answered that with a 3-pointer.
&uot;I think Rasaan Powell came in and did a good job on Kitt,&uot; Walker said. &uot;Kitt came in and did the things she could do. What I really was afraid of was their guards. They’ve got some pure shooters. But I think my kids played well. We told them before the game it was going to be 40 minutes of hell.&uot;
The Lady Braves led by nine on several occasionns in the first half until the Lady Hornets went to a man-to-man defense and got on a little roll.
Alcorn went withouth a field goal for over seven minutes at the end of the half. Powers’ basket with 52 seconds was the first Alcorn bucket since Dennis tossed on in at the 8:10 mark.
Alabama State got four points with 3:55 left when Catronda Thornton was called for a personal and technical foul on Rhonda Brown. Brown nailed all four free throws to cut it to 31-27.
Stephanie Browning put in a basket in the paint with 25 seconds left to cut Alcorn’s lead to 38-35 at half.