Controversial call gifts Bulldogs’ victory over Hornets


Hornet forward Jordan O’Neal elevates for a big slam as he flies by a Bulldog defender en route to the Hornets’ 55-50 loss.

Kendal Manns, The Hornet Tribune

The Alabama State University men’s basketball team dropped a heartbreaking 55-50 loss to the Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University Bulldogs on senior day in the teams’ Feb. 25 matchup.
With 9.0 seconds left on the clock, sophomore guard T.J. Madlock inbounded the ball to junior guard Roland McCoy in the left corner. McCoy, who was being swarmed by a Bulldog defender, passed to junior forward Eric Coleman at the top of the key. Coleman pump faked his defender and chucked up a three-pointer from beyond the arc. Time stopped as the ball takes forever to traveled to the basket, and touched nothing but net. The roof of the Dunn-Oliver Acadome became unglued, as the packed stadium roared with excitement for their home team.
Before the Hornets could get back on defense a slew of referee whistles were blown as the referees convened at the monitors for a late second review. After a few minutes passed, the officials called the shot off and issued Coleman a flagrant 2 foul, resulting in free throws and possession for the Bulldogs. The officials made the call after Coleman’s defender seemingly got hit in the face during the shot attempt.
This controversial call all but handed the game to the Bulldogs as the Hornets failed to make up the deficit after the Bulldog free throws. The enraged Hornet faithful booed the referees off the court, as the Bulldogs reigned supreme over their rivals.
Outside of the controversy at the end of the game, the game was highly competitive with neither team holding more than an eight point lead over the other. McCoy and Bulldogs’ Messiah Thompson traded baskets in a battle of players with the hot hand. Threes from both players kept the crowd on the edge of their seat. Both teams ran their offenses through their respective players as they put on a show in the second half.
A McCoy three from long distance tied the game up at 49 with 4:16 left to go in the second half. With Coleman’s potential game-winning three-pointer being taken away, every score in the final four minutes came from the charity stripe.
With the first half nearing a close, the Hornets, who were down 30-22, went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead at one going into halftime. Despite the Hornets’ starters struggling to string together scoring possessions, their defense was stellar defending the much taller Bulldog players like 7’0 center Olisa Blaise Akonobi. Their defense was key in keeping the game close and allowing their bench players to lighten the load offensively.
Three-point shooting played a major part in the Hornets’ success on the offensive end, with McCoy leading the Hornets in scoring off the bench, draining six of the Hornets’ nine threes on his own. McCoy’s 18 points marked a new career-high for the junior and made him the only Hornet to reach double digits in the contest. Coleman also pitched in with two threes of his own. Both players played big parts in the Hornets game plan, despite coming off the bench.
The Bulldogs starters performed much better than the Hornets with three of them scoring in double digits. Thompson came just one point short of leading both teams in scoring with 17 points, 12 of those coming from his three-point shootout with McCoy. Garrett Hicks and Akonobi also scored with 14 and 10 points respectively. The Bulldogs led in points in the paint 22-18, using their height advantage over the Hornets to their advantage. They also won the fastbreak points battle 14-7.
The Hornets seek to avenge their heartbreaker at home in an away contest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, against the Southern University Jaguars March 2 at 8 p.m.