The defense of the Hornets (4-9) pressured the Braves (0-10) all night long, holding them to single digits in two consecutive quarters during the faceoff between the women from Alcorn State University and the women of Alabama State University in the Dunn-Oliver Acadome. This dominant defensive performance propelled the Hornets to a 74-39 blowout win over the winless Braves in their home matchup on Jan. 10.
The Hornets’ game plan was clear from tipoff — feed the post on offense and bring continuous pressure on the defensive end. With this in mind, forwards Shmya Ward and Farrah Pearson saw a lot of opportunities early. If they did not score on the first possessions, they, along with the other bigs, created second-chance points for their team.
There was a lot of back and forth between the two teams in the first quarter, with the Braves taking a slight lead over the Hornets due to some offensive struggles in Alabama State’s half-court offense. At the end of the quarter, the Hornets gained the upper hand, going on a 5-0 run to take a two-point lead.
The Hornets’ offense exploded in the second quarter due to consistent ball movement and faster tempo. Due to the over-aggressive help defense by the Braves, perimeter players like senior guard Ayanna Emmanuel got more open shots and started to find their rhythm. Sophomore guard Dakiyah Sanders used her speed to blow by Braves defenders, generating more fastbreak opportunities.
The Braves struggled to find any rhythm on offense. Despite going ice cold from the three-point line, the Braves kept taking threes, some of which were wide-open. Second-chance opportunities were hard to come by as well, with the Hornets using their size advantage to limit the Braves to one possession. The Hornets outscored the Braves 23-8 in this quarter, putting the score at 40-23 going into the half.
The third quarter was more of the same as Alcorn’s offense was even worse. The lack of productivity resulted in them scoring a mere five points in the quarter. On the other hand, Alabama State continued its dominant play on both ends of the court. After a 60-28 score through three quarters, Alabama State cruised to a 74-39 victory.
Alabama State finished the game shooting just under 50% from the field on 29-of-59 and 35.9% from behind the arc. They also went 10-of-15 from the free-throw line on 66.7%. In easily their best defensive performance of the season so far, ASU held the Braves to just 23.7% from the field and 10.3% from three on 3-of-29 shots.
The “Big 3” of the Hornets, Shmya Ward, Jayla Crawford, and Ayanna Emmanuel, led the team in scoring. Ward dominated the paint and recorded 18 points, six rebounds, and three assists. Crawford finished with 14 points and two steals despite being in foul trouble. Emmanuel scored 13 points after struggling early on. She made a game-high three three-pointers in this game, along with grabbing four rebounds.
This win puts Alabama State in third place in the Southwestern Athletic Conference early on in conference play. The Hornets look forward to their next competition against their rival Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical Bulldogs on Jan. 15 in the final game of their three-game homestand.