Hornets fall to Tigers after poor fourth quarter execution


Ephrem Tilahun

The Hornets fell to the Texas Southern University Tigers in a tightly contested matchup 66-73.

Khalil Stewart, Assistant Sports Editor

Alabama State University head basketball coach Mo Williams was tossed out of the game by Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) officials late in the fourth quarter after he “lost his mind” due to what he felt was a foul on a three-point attempt by Trace Young. The Hornets fell to the Texas Southern University Tigers in a tightly contested matchup 66-73. This matchup took place in Houston, Texas, at the Health and Physical Education Arena located on the campus of Texas Southern University.

After picking up a dominant 78-44 victory over Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, the Tigers entered this matchup as a heavy favorite. For the Hornets, this was a chance for them to measure where they rank in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, taking on the defending champs. This is also the team’s 12th starting lineup combination, which ranks second in the nation.

The opening minutes of the first half was utterly forgettable for the Hornets after they trailed 8-0 forcing Williams to call a timeout. After the break, forward Christian McCray came in and scored the team’s first seven points of the game. Also, freshman guard D.J. Jackson came in and brought a great deal of energy for the Hornets with his defensive intensity. The Hornets continued their momentum and eventually tied the game at 21. 

The Tigers quickly called a timeout after the Hornets closed the gap. The Hornets took control of the game at the end of the first half but found themselves trailing 26-29 at the half. Trace Young led all scorers at the end of the half with nine, followed by McCray with seven. The Tigers were able to out-rebound 23-18 at the half, even with their two leading rebounders being on the bench due to late foul trouble.

The Hornets started the second half with the ball and a chance to tie, but their second-half starting woes continued as the Tigers jumped out to a 37-30 lead forcing a Hornet’s timeout. The Tigers were dominant in the paint, as they scored six straight points with a combination of dunks and layups. The Hornets were without their leading scorers and center Gerald Lidell, who only played seven minutes in the first half. 

Young was forced to play high minutes at the center position due to injuries and foul trouble, but he was no match for the Tiger’s freeway to the basket. The Hornets trailed by as much as 10 until Isaiah Range and Kenny Strawbridge were able to get some easy points at the rim to make the score 51-55. The next possessions saw both teams trade baskets and make the score 53-61.

However, over the next two minutes, neither team could buy a basket. There were many opportunities for the Hornets to tie the game or even take the lead, and they were unable to overcome their missed free throws, they missed three over the final minute. With 40 seconds left, Young attempted to draw a foul on a Tigers defender, but the referees did not call it.

Head coach Mo Williams spoke on the loss after the game. 

“It was tough, it’s tough. I thought we played a tough game against a really good basketball team on the road,” he said.  “It was just those 50-50 things that didn’t go our way. It just didn’t go our direction. You have to chalk it up and get ready for Bethune. We kept our composure. We told our guys to take a deep breath and keep executing, and things would change. And it did. I thought the guys did a good job of staying with it and got it to a five-point game.”

With this loss, the Hornets closed out their two-game road trip (0-2). As part of the inaugural BridgeBuilder Classic, they will play Bethune-Cookman University on Saturday, Jan. 29, at the Mitchell Center in Mobile, Alabama