Hornets late game rally not enough in loss to Texas Southern


Kendal Manns , Editor-in-Chief

A late-game rally from 23 points down was unsuccessful for the Alabama State University Hornets’ men’s basketball team (6-14, 4-3 SWAC) in their 71-65 home loss to the Texas Southern University Tigers (7-14, 3-5) Jan. 23.
The Tigers pounced on the Hornets early, going up by as much as 11 points with a 16-5 lead after a layup by Tiger guard Zytarious Mortle before Hornet head coach Tony Madlock called his first timeout. The Tigers continued their momentum and extended their 11-point lead to a 20-point one by the end of the half.
The Hornet defense struggled mightily to stop the Tigers in the paint and from long range. The Tigers converted five three-point shots, including three makes by guard Kehlin Farooq. The Tigers did whatever they wanted on the offensive side of the ball, scoring 45 first-half points to the Hornets’ 25.
Junior forward Duane Posey started the Hornets’ second-half rally with a layup followed by a jumper from a struggling Isaiah Range. Posey and Range continued to lead the way for the Hornets scoring the first 14 points of the half. Junior forward Eric Coleman got into the mix getting a big fastbreak dunk after a thunderous block by junior forward Jordan O’Neal. Another block by O’Neal set up a layup by sophomore guard T.J. Madlock for his first points of the second half.
The Hornet defense played their best basketball of the game and held the Tigers scoreless for over five minutes straight. In that five minutes, the Hornets outscored the Tigers 21-4. Graduate guard Damien Madison knocked down his second three-point shot to cap off the big second half run to bring the Hornets within single digits for the first time since the 14:28 mark of the first half.
With 6:22 left in the game, the packed crowd in the Dunn-Oliver Acadome was on the edge of their seats every possession. Every basket by the Hornets drew cheers from the crowd. Every defensive stop added to the Hornets’ momentum so much so that their comeback seemed inevitable. Another jumper from Madlock brought the Hornets’ deficit to six with 5:00 left.
Tigers’ forward Davon Barnes stopped the bleeding hitting four free throw shots on back-to-back possession to give the Tigers a 10-point cushion. With both teams trading possessions, Range took over the game for the next 1:38. After being held scoreless for the entire first half, the Hornets’ leading scorer came alive in the final two minutes.
Range hit his first three-pointer of the game at the 2:16 mark to bring the game within five. The Tigers responded with a mid-range jumper by forward John Walker III. Range responded with another deep three as the crowd cheered again. The Tigers converted one free throw on the other end before Range hit his third consecutive three-pointer to blow the roof of the Acadome and bring the Hornets within just two points at 67-65 with 38 seconds left.
Unfortunately for the Hornets, their defense made key mistakes leading to Tigers forward Joirdon Nicholas getting a dunk and free throws on back-to-back possession to seal the Tigers’ 71-65 win.
Range and Madlock had near identical stat lines with both leading the Hornets in scoring with 15 points and three steals apiece. The duo also scored five rebounds apiece. Madlock led the team in assists with four. Posey followed with 10 points and seven boards. O’Neal filled up the stat sheet with a near-double-double with eight points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.
The Tigers had four scorers in double digits, with Farooq leading the way with a game-high 21 points. He also grabbed nine rebounds. Barnes, Mortle and Walker followed behind with 15, 13 and 11, respectively. The Tigers won the points in the paint and points off turnovers battles outscoring the Hornets 32-26 and 20-14.
The Hornets start their two-game Florida road trip with a matchup against the Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats in Moore Gymnasium Jan. 28 at 3 p.m.