Inconsistency beginning to wear on Lady Braves

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 1, 2006

LORMAN &8212; Rasaan Powell insists she&8217;s fine.

She hardly came off the floor Saturday night and again was Alcorn&8217;s main source of scoring, rebounding and just about anything else that needed to be done.

She even tried her hand at a 3-pointer.

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The big post player put up 22 points, grabbed nine rebounds and hit all eight of her free throws in a 63-54 loss to Mississippi Valley Saturday. That&8217;s the good part &8212; it&8217;s what everyone else didn&8217;t do that&8217;s the bad part for the Lady Braves.

The worst? It&8217;s the inconsistency that&8217;s wearing on everyone. The Lady Braves have put together complete games before but can turn around and nose-dive with the best of them.

They&8217;ll try it again at 5:30 tonight against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Lady Lions beat Alcorn last month for their first win in the series in 22 tries.

&8220;We run enough in practice to stay in shape, so I&8217;m OK,&8221; Powell said. &8220;We just didn&8217;t play well together. We came out and weren&8217;t communicating on defense and not rotating. It goes back to being a young team. We can&8217;t be consistent. It&8217;s up and down. We&8217;ve got to stay focused and try to pull the rest of these give games out.&8221;

The youth has played a factor in this year&8217;s team, one that lost four starters from last year&8217;s SWAC championship team and has its lone returner trying to play through a knee injury. The Lady Braves mounted a comeback against Valley and whittled the deficit down to seven after trailing by 22 at one point midway through the second half.

That inconsistency is eating at head coach Shirley Walker, whose team at 7-13 overal and 5-7 in conference is headed toward the worst mark since the 1986-87 team finished 5-22 overall and 4-14 in conference.

&8220;I don&8217;t know when the last game was that we won on a Saturday,&8221; Walker said. &8220;Monday night everybody came off the bench and gave us a spark. I don&8217;t know. I think it&8217;s going to be up to the players to do the things they need to do to win and go from there. I&8217;m looking at it, and it&8217;s really tough. I&8217;m not taking it out on anybody, but we didn&8217;t have anybody to come off the bench and give us a spark.&8221;

They could have used something like that early in the second half when the game really got out of hand. The Lady Braves turned it over seven times in a span of seven minutes, got only a short jumper from Natasha Dennis and watched Valley&8217;s lead stretch from 34-30 to 54-32.

The stretch reminded everyone in attendance of the team&8217;s biggest obstacle &8212; finding consistent scoring outside of Powell &8212; as the rest of the team combined to hit 10 field goals to go with Powell&8217;s seven.

&8220;Defensive turnovers, and we scored a lot off their turnovers,&8221; said Valley guard Karmethia Mazique, a Natchez High grad who six points, six rebounds and five assists. &8220;We pushed the ball and kept our heads in the game. My thing with Powell is she&8217;s a great player. I can&8217;t take anything away from her. Powell is going to get hers. We had to stop everybody else.&8221;

It wasn&8217;t for lack of trying. The Lady Braves fired up 24 shots from behind the 3-point line &8212; more than their last three games combined and their most so far this season &8212; but hit only five.

The Lady Braves remain the worst 3-point shooting team in the conference. The inside game next to Powell struggled as well as Latoya Wily and Shawntawnee Collins combined for eight points and nine rebounds.

&8220;We&8217;ve been (having turnovers) in a lot of our games,&8221; Walker said. &8220;I just don&8217;t understand it. We&8217;ve got to grow up and be mature about it. We&8217;ve got to get the ball in there better. That&8217;s what we haven&8217;t been doing. We depend on Rasaan Powell. Latoya had a real good game against Grambling. She&8217;ll show up tonight and not tomorrow.&8221;

Outside of youth, the team also is fighting through injuries. Dennis has battled that knee problem all season and may continue to do so. Guard Precious Sheats is awaiting MRI results of a sore knee, and Tina Huff did not suit up Saturday.

Guards Britany Myatt and Tanika Nunez each sat out less than five minutes Saturday. Outside of minutes here and there, Walker played primarily six people.

&8220;That&8217;s a problem, too,&8221; Powell said. &8220;We&8217;ve been having injuries all year. That&8217;s been killing us. We&8217;re having to play freshmen.&8221;