Turnovers end Braves’ comeback bid

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 31, 2004

LORMAN &045; Alcorn State put up a solid fight against a Texas A&M-Corpus; Christi squad which defeated them by 40 points earlier in the season but fell short as the Islanders’ 84-73 victory ended the Braves three-game winning streak.

The Braves jumped out in the first half with an 11-4 spurt, but the Islanders slowly chipped away at their deficit and earned their first lead, 16-15, at the 10:37 mark following a Corey Stokes’ layup.

Texas A&M-Corpus; Christi went on a 12-4 surge to earn the lead. Alcorn got to within two points, 22-20, of the Islanders, but solid free throw shooting permitted the Islanders to maintain the lead as TAMCC took a six-point advantage into the locker room at the break, 34-28.

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In the second half, Alcorn (5-11) played into the hands of the Islanders by attempting a more up-tempo game and turned the ball over several times as a result. Texas A&M-Corpus; Christi scored 22 points off 19 Brave mishandles.

The 19 turnovers are the most that Alcorn has recorded in nearly two weeks.

Nevertheless, the Braves stayed in the ballgame, but every instance they got within striking distance of the lead, they either were careless with the ball or succumbed to a clutch basket by the TAMCC.

Alcorn got to within a bucket of the Islanders in the early going of the second after two made free throws by Myles Howard, but the TAMCC turned up the tide and jumped back ahead by 11 points with 11:14 remaining after a Thomas Bailey jumper.

Alcorn slowly chipped away at the lead in the latter stages of the half and made one final push by getting within three points; however, a made field goal by Derrick Murphy sealed the fate of the Braves with 2:48 remaining.

&uot;Our defense was suspect tonight,&uot; Alcorn head coach Sam West said. &uot;We turned the ball over too much and gave a poor effort on the glass, and the amazing thing was that we were still in the ball game.&uot;

The Braves were led by junior point guard Trey Johnson, who posted a new career-high 23 points on 8 of 13 shooting from the field, including a perfect 3 of 3 from downtown.

Junior forward Brian Jackson continued his impressive play as of late with 18 points, while John Chandler added 11 off the bench.

Texas A&M-Corpus; Christi (11-8) was led by Murphy’s 20 points, while Brian Evans, Stokes and Bailey each notched 14.

Both teams sizzled at the charity stripe. The Braves shot 19 of 20, while the Islanders were 17 of 18. Alcorn knocked down eight long balls on the evening.

Alcorn returns to action on Saturday at Southern University in Baton Rouge at 7:30 p.m.

&uot;Southern is going to be a tough game,&uot; West said. &uot;We’re going into a hostile environment. It’s us against the world right now. Hopefully we can come away with a victory on Saturday and get red hot throughout the month of February. Every game is crucial now.&uot;