The Battle of the Alabama Powerhouses: Alabama State versus Alabama A&M

Kendal Manns

A showdown between two of the best teams in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) women’s division is slated to take place Feb. 13. The top-seeded Alabama State University Lady Hornets (9-1) face off against their biggest rival, the third seed Alabama A&M Lady Bulldogs (7-2) in the Dunn-Oliver Acadome. This will be the first time these two programs matchup this season due to their first meeting in January being postponed. 

This game will feature some of the best the SWAC has to offer. Four of the top 10 scorers in the entire conference will be playing in this game, as ASU’s dynamic duo of Ayanna Emmanuel and Shmya Ward will battle against Dariauna Lewis and Deshawna Harper from A&M. Ward and Lewis are both coming off of stellar performances that earned them SWAC weekly honors for last week, with Shmya Ward being named SWAC Basketball Impact Player of the Week and Dariauna Lewis being named SWAC Basketball Player of the Week. 

These four women are leading their respective teams to some phenomenal statistical performances this season. This will be the battle of the SWAC’s best offense in Alabama State and the SWAC’s best defense in Alabama A&M. ASU is also third in defense and A&M is second in offense, meaning these are well-rounded teams who bring it on both ends of the floor. Both teams are at the top of the list in assist to turnover ratio as well. 

The A&M Lady Bulldogs are led at the helm by coach Margaret Richards, who is in her fifth season coaching the team. In that time, Richards has elevated the team to top tier in the SWAC. The proof of this can be seen in A&M’s historic 2020 campaign, in which they achieved a 17-13 overall record, 12-6 against SWAC opponents, and an opportunity to play in the SWAC tournament semifinals before their season was canceled due to COVID-19. 

In 2021, this team has achieved much of that same success to date with their 7-2 overall record and a 5-1 record in SWAC play. A&M is certainly no push over and looks to shake things up at the top of the SWAC by giving ASU a critical loss that could possibly knock them out of first place, putting them behind Jackson State University.

The Lady Hornets are led by the illustrious coach Freeda Freeman-Jackson, whose resume speaks for itself. She is a SWAC hall of famer after being inducted in 2019, and she has the utmost respect around the SWAC. During her coaching tenure, she has led ASU to three conference championships, along with three NCAA Tournament berths. 

As of the Hornets’ last game, she has 326 wins in her almost 23 years as head coach at ASU. She is currently leading ASU to a historic start to the season in the first 10 games, as her team has been playing great basketball throughout this season. She holds her team to a very high standard and is still not satisfied. She wants to see her team go even further as they have an opportunity to beat the hungry, red-hot Bulldogs.

The battle for Alabama will be center court Feb. 13 at 2 p.m. The Lady Hornets and Lady Bulldogs both look to make a statement with the regular season nearing its end and the postseason quickly approaching.