Braves survive overtime battle with Panthers, advance to semifinals of SWAC tournament

Published 10:18 am Thursday, March 10, 2022

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. –  The 64-63 overtime victory for the Alcorn State men’s basketball team in the quarterfinal of the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship Tournament was not a pretty one. The No. 1 Braves had to fight until the very last second to top Prairie View A&M Wednesday night. Alcorn rose to the challenge to defeat the Panthers and advance to the semifinals. 

“Playing against Prairie View is not your typical eight seed [contest],” began Head Coach Landon Bussie as he discussed facing his former coaching staff and players. “I knew going into that game that it would be hard. We knew it was going to come to the last possession because we weren’t going to lay down, and they weren’t going to lay down.”

Taking it down to the wire in a fierce battle, Darrious Agnew and Byron Joshua led Alcorn State in scoring. They each scored 13 points to be the only Braves to hit double-digits.

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“When it gets tough when it gets thick [the players] are going to find a way to battle and find a way,” Bussie said of the team’s late-period rally. “Every day is somebody different who comes to save us.”

Agnew also recovered 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. He made five of 11 from the field and hit three of his free throws, while Joshua landed three of 14 from the floor, including two of eight in three-point range. He also added five on his nine attempts at the line.

As a team, the Alcorn men’s basketball team struggled to land shots but fought through the adversity to outlast Praire View. The Braves took 74 shots from the field and landed 22 (29.7 percent), including six of 27 from far. At the line, the squad added just 14 of 28 (50.0%).

The Panthers won the tipoff and shot a three-pointer to jumpstart the scoring effort. They soon found themselves ahead of the Braves 7-2.

Joshua ended the drought for Alcorn with the team’s first shot beyond the arc and split free throws at the line by Lenell Henry brought the Braves within one, 7-6, with 17:03 remaining in the half.

The two opponents traded scoring runs, but PVAM kept their momentum going longer to score more points. Eventually, the Braves were down 34-26 with 3:20 left before the break.

Oddyst Walker, with a three, started another rally for the Braves to close out the half. Alcorn outscored PVAM 7-5 in the time remaining to trail 39-34 at the half.

Coming back from the break, the Braves took the first five points. A jumper from Justin Thomas gave Alcorn State its first lead of the game, 40-39, with 15:00 left in regulation.

The second half was a push to the finish, and the Panthers began to pull away from the Braves. Prairie View got its largest lead of the period 54-48 with 2:28 remaining on the clock, but Alcorn finished the period the way it started, collecting the last six points.

Dominic Brewton hit a three-point shot off a steal from Thomas to tie the game at 54 with just four seconds left. Neither team could do anything offensively in the time remaining, taking the contest into overtime.

At the overtime tipoff, Henry was fouled to take a trip to the free-throw line. He made the first but missed the second to give the Braves a 54-55 advantage. The back and forth began again, and with under four minutes on the clock, the lead changed three times, and the score tied four times.

Thomas took a foul with under two seconds remaining. He split his free throws to claim the victory and advance the Braves into the semifinals.

In the next round, Alcorn State will take on the winner of the No. 5 Alabama A&M versus No.4 Florida A&M game on Thursday. The matchup is set for Friday, Mar. 11 at 9:30 p.m.