Liddell&8217;s steal, bucket at end sinks ASU women

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 2, 2006

LORMAN &8212; Of all the buckets Rasaan Powell hit right under the basket, on putbacks, from 3 feet away and from the free throw line, she finally missed one late in the ball game.

And Jackson State finally found a break.

It helped everyone finally stop Alcorn&8217;s big girl in the middle, and it may have given the Lady Tigers a boost on defensive end. Because other steals in the final minutes of the game were pivotal, and the Lady Tigers got a shot from Angel Liddell with five seconds left to finish off a 60-59 win over the Lady Braves Saturday.

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It was Jackson&8217;s fourth straight win over Alcorn at the Whitney Complex.

&8220;She&8217;s the leading scorer in the conference,&8221; JSU head coach Denise Taylor said of Powell. &8220;We knew we weren&8217;t going to shut her out, but we definitely wanted to limit her and not allow some of the other players to go off. She did a great job. She put the team on her back. We really had to dig down defensively.&8221;

It took a lot of digging deep against a team whose post player not only rung up 32 points for her second straight 30-plus performance but had 28 by the midway point in the second half. Yet Taylor&8217;s squad did what they had to do in the final five minutes of the game with Alcorn holding a seven-point lead and feeling comfortable about getting the ball inside.

They put the pressure on the guards.

What was a 55-48 deficit turned into a 57-56 score with 1:51 to play when JSU post player Shelita Burns hit a shot. Powell then hit two free throws for a three-point lead, but the game turned when Liddell picked freshman guard Britany Myatt&8217;s pocket just inside midcourt and drove down for a layup to cut the lead to one with 59 seconds left.

The Lady Braves then tried to get it into Powell down low, but her shot rimmed out. JSU called a timeout, and Liddell hit a shot just inside the free throw line for the lead.

Alcorn had one last possession but turned it over quickly.

&8220;Turnovers &8212; that&8217;s what we need to work on,&8221; said ASU sophomore guard Tanika Nunez, who had 10 points. &8220;We&8217;ve got to utilize the clock. The clock was in our favor, and we didn&8217;t take advantage of it. This was the game we were looking forward to. This was to set the tone for the SWAC, but unfortunately it went down to the wire.&8221;

The final five minutes confirmed ASU head coach Shirley Walker&8217;s biggest worries after the Lady Braves struggled running the offense &8212; which is getting the ball inside to Powell or Latoya Wily with this year&8217;s personnel. Wily had a bucket on a putback at the 6:42 mark that gave Alcorn its biggest lead of the game at 55-46.

Wily and Powell &8212; or Huff &8212; worked well together underneath with a combined 40 points and 20 rebounds. But the turnovers at the end from the perimeter nullified anything the two could do inside.

&8220;That&8217;s what our problem has been here lately,&8221; Walker said. &8220;And we just don&8217;t have a bench. It&8217;s been like that for the last three ball games. Our guard play hasn&8217;t been up to par. If we can get a good player off the bench to come out and help us, I&8217;d feel a little more comfortable. We&8217;ve just got a lot of problems.&8221;

That wasn&8217;t the case for the entire 40 minutes, and the Lady Braves picked it up defensively on the other end to take the big lead. Burns had her struggles down low against Powell and Wily, and the Lady Tigers went through a dry spell of nearly six minutes while Alcorn got that nine-point lead.

At one point JSU missed three shots right under the basket and were called for a foul on the third miss.