Montgomery, Ala. – Alabama State head basketball coach Freda Freeman-Jackson wondered how her troops would respond to Saturday’s tough overtime loss. Just like their last game, ASU got off to a fast start and had a big lead at halftime.
Unfortunately, also like the last game, the Lady Hornets surrendered their lead thanks to a huge second-half run from the opponents. Tonight, however, ASU righted the ship just in time to secure a 59-56 win over Savannah State.
“We needed this one,” Freeman-Jackson said. “Our effort is still so great, but we only rotating three or four guards instead of the seven or eight we are expecting. The secret is out. Everyone is going to trap and press up and down the court.
“It’s Division I basketball – it’s strenuous and we have to get through it.”
Early on, Erica Lumpkin certainly did her part as she drilled four first half three-pointers. With Shanice Merritt and Tanika Jackson dominating the boards, ASU built 16 point lead with about five minutes to go in the half.
However, the Lady Tigers ran off 10 straight to get within six. ASU re-grouped to push the lead back to 11 – 37-26 – at the half.
Savannah State slowly but surely chipped away at the Lady Hornets lead in the second half, until they tied the game at 45. SSU actually built a three-point lead, with just over seven minutes remaining.
Both defenses clamped down, and what was an up-and-down game become a half court affair. The Lady Hornets switched to a zone defense and Jasmine Sanford took advantage of a lazy SSU past, stealing it and converting the basket on the other end.
Still, Savannah State wouldn’t go away, and took the lead on LaShara Smith’s jumper with 2:27 to go.
On the next trip down, ASU forced a miss by the Lady Tigers. Rugged freshman forward Tanika Jackson went up for a defensive rebound before being fouled and falling to the floor.
LaShundreya Townsend came in for Jackson and hit one of two free throws to tie the game. But the ball and the clock favored SSU.
The Lady Tigers got two shots and missed them both, and ASU came the other way with the clock below 15 seconds.
With only seven seconds left Shanice Merritt powered up a shot and was fouled. She hit the first and missed the second, but Jasmine Sanford snatched away the loose ball before being fouled.
Sanford calmly knocked in both shots sealing the win for the Lady Hornets.
After the game, Freeman-Jackson expressed concern about Jackson – the SWAC’s second leading rebounder.
“At this point we can only pray and hope that she’s ok,” Freeman-Jackson said.
Lumpkin finished with 15 points and six rebounds for ASU. LaShundreya Townsend scored 11. Merritt finished with seven points and nine rebounds.
ASU (6-10, 2-3 SWAC) travels to Alcorn State this Saturday.