Lady Braves one shot away from beating Louisiana Tech

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 14, 2004

LORMAN &045; Rasaan Powell may have put up the biggest double-double of her life against the toughest competition she’s seen at Alcorn, but in the locker room afterward the big 6-2 post was an emotional wreck.

Which is something rare for someone who fears no one on the court.

But Powell and the Lady Braves couldn’t finish off Louisiana Tech Monday night despite giving the nationally established Lady Techsters quite possibly their biggest scare to date this season. The Lady Techsters had just one lead in the second half the entire game, and that stood up at the end for a 62-61 win over Alcorn at the Whitney Complex.

Email newsletter signup

Powell, who had 12 points and 13 boards, had a shot partially blocked at the buzzer on an inbounds play right under the goal. But what probably made her break down afterward more than anything was missing the front end of a one-and-one with six seconds left.

&uot;We should have won,&uot; said Powell, the sophomore from Columbia. &uot;We missed too many free throws. She fouled me (on the last play), but I should have went up stronger. We should have went back to practicing our free throws. We work on our free throws too much to miss them down the stretch.&uot;

As painful as it was at the end to watch the Lady Techsters wriggle off her club’s hook, Alcorn head coach Shirley Walker couldn’t be disappointed in the effort. The Lady Braves pushed Tech to the edge and had a 13-point lead at one point in the second half before the Lady Techsters chipped away.

Yet the veteran coach knew that wasn’t an ordinary fish that wriggled off.

&uot;That hurt more than sticking my finger down in a meat grinder,&uot; Walker said. &uot;I really, truly thought the way we played during the game I thought we were going to win it. As a matter of fact, we should have won it. But you’ve got to make your free throws.

&uot;Powell is a tough cookie. I mean she’s tough. We didn’t say anything, but you couldn’t stop her (afterward). Her teammates were all around her (supporting her). Personally, I was pleased to see that.&uot;

The Lady Techsters had trouble with Powell and Alcorn’s inside game, especially at the start of the second half when the Lady Braves opened with a 12-0 run. Alcorn had its last run just before the 5:00 mark when Vernette Skeete hit one of two free throws with 5:25 left for a 59-51 lead.

But the Lady Techsters answered with a 3-pointer each from Shan Moore and Lakiste Barkus to claw back in it. Moore then hit a buckets with 1:25 left for the 62-61 lead.

Alcorn had a chance later when Skeete went to the line for a one-and-one with 36 seconds left, but she missed the front end on that as well.

&uot;I told their coach afterward she out-coached me, their kids out-played us and they really did deserve to win,&uot; Tech head coach Kurt Budke said. &uot;We knew how they were going to attack us, and we prepared for it. They still did a good job of executing. This is a program that has a lot of pride and tradition, and that’s hard to get across to 19-year-old ladies, I guess.&uot;

The Lady Braves had an 11-point lead with 10:40 left and tried to get in a clock-control mode at times, but the Lady Techsters kept fighting back. Tanika Nunez put in that shot after Tnonealyer Powers came up with a steal for a 51-40 lead, but the Lady Techsters got a bucket from Tasha Crain to spark a 13-2 run to get back in the game.

Crain scored on a putback with 7:56 left that cut the score to 53-51.

&uot;I take my hat off to their team,&uot; Walker said. &uot;My team came in, and they played. I was very proud to have a team like that come in here. We want those guards to be that coach on the floor. This is our fifth ball game, and I’m not making an excuse for it. I think we should have won at Houston Baptist (Thursday). We’ve got to stay in shape.&uot;

Alcorn came out hot in the second half and got a sizeable lead on the Lady Techsters thanks to solid play in the post and a number of steals on defense. Powers put in a bucket to start the half and ignite a 12-0 run to start the half, and Skeete converted a layup off a steal for a 44-32 lead.

LaToya Johnson nailed a jumper from the side with 14:00 left for a 47-34 Alcorn lead.

&uot;We’re just in a transition phase right now,&uot; Budke said. &uot;We’re missing some shooters right now. What’s happening is you run your offense, miss an easy shot and have to go back and play defense. We had too many turnovers and too many missed shots. At some point in time they have to step up and take a little more pride in their game.&uot;

The Lady Techsters started to pull away late in the first half before Alcorn called a timeout, made some stops defensively and converted on the other end of the floor to tie it up. Nastassja Levingston hit a bucket with 5:50 left that gave the Lady Techsters their biggest lead of the half at 28-20, and that’s when Walker called a timeout to regroup.

The Lady Braves got back in it with a buckets from Tanika Nunez and consecutive 3-pointers from Vernette Skeete to tie it back up at 28 at the 4:05 mark.

The Lady Techsters missed an opportunity to take a lead just before time expired when a shot fell just after the buzzer sounded. Skeete hit two free throws with 21 seconds left that left the score tied at 32 at the break.