Hornets fall to Bulldogs in Bridge Builders Classic 23


Photo by Jaelyn Stansbury/Chief Photographer

During the Alabama State University vs. the Bethune-Cookman University football game, Bethune-Cookman’s quarterback Jalen Jones splits the Hornet defense for a huge Wildcat first down.

Kendal Manns, Editor-in-Chief

For the first time, the storied rivalry between the Alabama State University Hornets (6-10, 3-2 SWAC) and Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University Bulldogs (6-9, 4-1 SWAC) women’s basketball teams took place in the Port City of Mobile, Alabama, in the second annual Bridge Builders Classic. The Bulldogs came out victorious with a 60-46 win in the Jan. 16 matchup after a strong defensive showing in the second half.
Both teams came out of the gate trading buckets back and forth. The Hornets struck first blood with junior forward Shmya Ward scoring the first points of the game in her pursuit of the 1,000-point career milestone. Bulldog forward Armani Free started off hot, scoring her team’s first six points.
Despite the early scoring, both teams’ defenses made their presence known. Their suffocating paint defenses altered a lot of shot attempts from both teams.
The Bulldogs edged out the Hornets with a narrow 16-14 lead going into the second quarter. Ward remained a consistent scoring threat for the Hornets, as she muscled her way through Bulldog defenders en route to several baskets at the rim. The Hornets strung together a few scoring possessions in a row, including a midrange basket from senior guard Jayla Crawford and a layup from junior forward Cordasia Harris on an assist from Ward.
A fastbreak layup by Ward tied the game up at 24 all, with 5:32 left in the first half. The Bulldogs locked down on defense for the final five minutes holding the Hornets scoreless, while also scoring six unanswered points themselves. They went into halftime with a 30-26 lead.
Senior guard Ayana Emmanuel hit the Hornets’ first three of the game to bring them within one point four minutes into the second half. Unfortunately for the Hornets, this would be the closest they would get to taking the lead for the rest of the game as the Bulldogs started pulling away due to a variety of timely shots by a trio of guards Toni Grace, Taylor Smith and Free. The Bulldogs’ lead grew by as much as 13 in the third as they went into the final quarter up 47-37.
The fourth quarter was more of the same as the Hornets failed to get a rhythm on the offensive side of the ball as a combination of missed shots and foul trouble plagued them at times and caused a disjointed offense. The Hornets attempted a late comeback late in the fourth but it was far little too late as the Bulldogs rode their momentum en route to a 60-46 win.
Ward led the Hornets in scoring with 14 points on 50% from the field, coming just two points short of the 1,000-point milestone. Despite being in foul trouble for most of the second half, Emmanuel recorded the team’s only double-double, finishing with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Emmanuel and Crawford both struggled from the field shooting below their season averages and combining for just 21.43% (6-for-28) from the field and 22.22% (2-for-9) from beyond the arc.
Free led both teams in scoring with a 17-point 10-rebound double-double. Grace followed with 16 points and five rebounds. The Bulldogs’ bench provided them the boost over the Hornets scoring 17 points to their two. They also led in points off turnovers (12) and second-chance points (11).
With the Hornets currently sixth in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) standings, every game matters in the months leading up to the SWAC Tournament in March. They have a tough task ahead of them as they return home to the Dunn-Oliver Acadome for a two-game homestand, starting with the #1 seed Prairie View Agricultural and Mechanical University Panthers (8-9, 5-1 SWAC). The two teams face off on Jan. 21 at 3:30.