Lady Hornets lose a heartbreaker

Despite a late comeback, Lady Hornets fall to JSU Lady Tigers in SWAC Championship game


Alabama State University Lady Hornet Tamirea Thomas rises up for a jump shot in the SWAC Championship against the Jackson State University Lady Tigers. The Lady Tigers won the game 67-66.

Mason T. Smith, Sports Editor

The Alabama State Lady Hornets tenaciously fought back from being down by 17 points in the third quarter. Still, some unfavorable calls down the stretch and unlucky bounces in the final seconds were too much to overcome as the Lady Hornets fell to the Jackson State Lady Tigers 67-66.
The Lady Hornets continued to close the gap until an 11-0 run, highlighted by a 3-pointer from Ayana Emmanuel, gave them the lead by two with 2:05 left to play in the final quarter.
Coming out of the timeout, the Lady Tigers tied the game with a layup from Ameysha Williams with 1:44 to go. After Lady Hornet Armani Smith missed a layup, the Lady Tigers looked to take the lead but failed to capitalize after Cherelle Jones was called for a traveling violation.
With the clock now down to 54 seconds, the Lady Hornets took the ball back down the court looking to regain the lead, but a block by Williams, who won Defensive Player of the Year, led to a Lady Tiger fastbreak, and a Lady Hornet foul sent SWAC Player of the Year Dayzha Rogan to the free-throw line. After Rogan hit both free throws, Alabama State lost 65-63 with 33 seconds to go.
Once the Lady Hornets went back down the court, Emmanuel drove into traffic in the paint but was able to find Farrah Pearson, the SWAC Freshman of the Year, behind the color, and she delivered. The Pike Road, Alabama native, knocked down a wide-open wing 3-pointer to give the Lady Hornets a 66-65 lead with 17.2 seconds to play.
After Jackson State called a timeout, they inbounded the ball at halfcourt to Williams in the post. Williams missed the layup after a spin move, but Jones was there to catch the rebound, and what was thought to be a clean block by Lady Hornet Shmya Ward turned out to be a foul, sending Jones to the line. After Jones knocked down both free throws, the Lady Tigers took the lead 67-66 with 13.9 seconds left on the clock.
The Lady Hornets inbounded the ball after the timeout at half court to Emmanuel, and she immediately attacked the paint, pushing hard right to the basket. After being stopped by two Lady Tiger defenders, she had Tyesha Rudolph open in the corner, but instead, Emmanuel forced up a tough shot, which led to a mad scramble for the ball. Eventually, the ball found Ward, who threw up a last-ditch effort, but it fell short, and Jackson State secured the rebound and the win.
Offensively it was a challenging game for the Lady Hornets; the leading scorers in Ward, Emmanuel, and Jayla Crawford all struggled to score, especially Ward and Crawford, who combined for only 15 points on 6 of 19 shooting. Emmanuel finished with 17 points on 33% shooting, and freshman Tamirea Thomas added a career-high 11 points in the championship game.
Rogan did not have a great shooting night for Jackson State, but she still managed to put up a game-high 25 points with five rebounds. Williams finished with a double-double, 11 points, and 13 rebounds, while Cherelle Jones contributed 13 points and nine boards.
This was a difficult way for the Lady Hornets to end their season, but that should not take away from the stellar team play and individual success during this COVID campaign, one that will still go down as one of the best in recent memory.
This will likely be the end for seniors Courtney Lee and Aliyah Nelson, but what perhaps is the best part of this story is that the rest of the roster, including the All-Conference players in Ward, Crawford, and Emmanuel, will all be returning next season, so Hornet fans will have potentially another great season, with hopefully a happier ending. Once you include the freshmen that will only get better, we may be looking at a women’s program that may be a force for years to come.