Alcorn men snap skid with tight win over Jaguars

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 31, 2005

LORMAN &045; If Saturday’s game between Alcorn State and Southern was just a typical Southwestern Athletic Conference game, nobody told the two teams involved.

Jerist Roberts slammed into padded barriers in front of the scorer’s table going after a loose ball in the first half, both teams tried numerous alley-oops, the crowd roared throughout the game and the Alcorn marching band played at dead balls, making for an atmosphere more than a little different from your typical Alcorn home game.

On the floor, the game was intense and the score tight for almost the entire game, coming down the final 1.1 seconds of play. In the end, Alcorn (5-15, 4-5) beat Southern (8-10, 5-4) 69-67, putting the Braves within a win of .500 in conference play.

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But it didn’t come easy. After taking a 14-point lead with just more than five minutes remaining in the contest, Alcorn almost let Southern escape with a win.

Alcorn’s DeAndre Jones tried to dunk the ball but was fouled and missed. He walked to the free throw line with a chance to put the Braves up by four with 5.4 seconds left after his club had played keep-away, running more than 13 seconds off the clock bringing the ball downcourt, while Southern tried to foul them to stop the clock.

He missed both free throws, but Alcorn’s Delvin Thompson came down with the rebound, then called a timeout with 1.1 seconds to go. On the ensuing inbounds play, Alcorn’s Almaad Jackson caught the ball and held it until the clock expired.

&uot;I just thought, ‘Don’t let it go,’&uot; Jackson said. &uot;Last year it happened almost the same way. We were up by 12 and they came back beat us in the same situation.&uot;

Southern coach Michael Grant blamed the loss on his team’s lack of preparation.

&uot;The bottom line was we didn’t come ready to play,&uot; Grant said. &uot;We didn’t have great practices the past two days. To miss free throws and wide open layups is just a lack of concentration.&uot;

The Braves led 64-53 with three minutes to play and looked to have the win sewn up.

&uot;We were up 14 on them, and then we didn’t score again,&uot; Alcorn head coach Samuel West said. &uot;That’s been our Achilles’ heel all season, we get stuck for stretches at important times. One day we’re going to play 40 minutes of basketball. I don’t know when, but I hope it’s soon.&uot;

Alcorn went dry over the final three minutes, scoring three points from the free throw line and getting their only basket on a long jumpshot by Patrick Horton, who came off the bench to play some critical minutes down the stretch.

The full-court press the Jaguars employed late in the game had great results. Alcorn struggled just to get the ball inbounded on several possessions. Southern outscored the Braves 16-5 in the final 3:03, very nearly winning the game.

&uot;The problem was just getting the ball inbounds,&uot; Thompson said. &uot;Once we did that, we were OK beating it.&uot;

Alcorn had broken away midway through the second half, taking a 59-45 lead with 5:24 remaining in the game. That lead came after the Braves went on a 19-5 run spanning more than 10 minutes of game time immediately after Southern’s Chris Alexander was called for a technical foul for taunting Alcorn’s Thompson.

&uot;After that, I had to go for it,&uot; Thompson said. &uot;They were chasing me the whole game, trying to prevent me from getting the ball.&uot;

Thompson had struggled before that point, shooting just Thompson had 13 points during that run and 23 for the game to lead all scorers.

Alexander led the Jaguars with 17 points.

Alcorn came out of the gates strong, jumping out to a 10-3 lead with 15:06 left to go in the first half, but Southern fought back. The Jaguars came back to take a lead with 7:37 remaining in the first half at 21-20.

The teams traded the lead two more times before Southern finished with a 32-30 lead.

Neither team shot well in the first half, with Alcorn hitting just 34.5 percent of its shot and Southern connecting on 29.4 percent of its shots.