Fourth quarter Hornet explosion pushes team past BCU Wildcats


ESaelynn Cameron

The Alabama State University Hornets (6-10) defeated the Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats (3-14) 81-64 in the Hornet’s return home to the Dunn Oliver Acadome on Jan. 29.

Kendal Manns, Sports Editor

The Alabama State University Hornets (6-10) defeated the Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats (3-14) 81-64 in the Hornet’s return home to the Dunn Oliver Acadome on Jan. 29. 

The Wildcats opened the first quarter scoring on their first couple of possessions and getting out to a 4-0 lead early. Senior guards Ayanna Emmanuel and Tyesha Rudolph brought their team within two with a couple of drives to the rim. Bethune-Cookman maintained a slight advantage over ASU finding creases in the team’s defense. Emmanuel’s shot from the three-point range in the corner gave the Hornets a 9-7 lead, their first of the game. 

In contrast to their previous few games, the Hornets’ ball club looked more composed and patient, letting the game come to them rather than rushing the tempo. This composure allowed them to take advantage of the over-aggressive defense from BCU by turning the corner off of double teams and going full speed to the basket. In an attempt to pressure the Wildcats’ offense, the Hornets pressed them the full-length of the court, resulting in turnovers and points on the other end. A floater courtesy of Emmanuel gave the Hornets a 19-9 lead going into the second quarter. 

 The Hornets’ defense ramped up as they did a great job anticipating passes and getting their hands in the passing lanes. The Wildcats defense also improved as they got the better of the Hornets in the second quarter. With their defense focused on denying the ball to the Hornets’ bigs in the paint, they forced a few turnovers resulting in points on the other end. They cut the deficit to just five points with six minutes to go. 

Alabama State forward Shmya Ward struggled to get a rhythm going with so much of the defense devoted to stopping her in the paint. Despite that pressure, Ward contributed as a facilitator and ran the court in transition. The Hornets as a whole continued to benefit from fastbreak and second-chance points, helping them maintain a slim lead over the Wildcats. 

In the final minutes of the quarter, junior guard Hannah White dished the ball to Jayla Crawford, who knocked down a three-pointer behind the arc. Another layup by Ward put the Hornets lead at seven before a big three-pointer from Bethune-Cookman’s Morgan Beacham cut the lead to four, with the Hornets leading 36-32 at the half. 

The third quarter was the most balanced on both sides, with the Hornets narrowly edging out the Wildcats in points in the quarter 17-16. No matter how well the Hornets played, the Wildcats matched them step for step. A tough three-pointer by White as the shot clock expired gave the Hornets their largest lead of the quarter at nine, two minutes into the quarter. Ward saw a few more touches with a couple of dimes by the ASU guards, making up for the Hornets’ struggles at the free-throw line. 

Due to the Wildcats’ aggressiveness in attacking the ASU defense, they were rewarded with frequent trips to the free-throw line. Unlike the Hornets, they were knocking down those shots consistently, keeping them in the game. The Hornets maintained a 53-48 lead as the two teams went into the final quarter of play. 

Alabama State dominated the fourth with their offense firing on all cylinders. Back-to-back three-pointers from Rudolph gave her team a lot of momentum. Ward heated up as well, scoring on four straight possessions putting enough distance between the two teams and sealing the deal for the Hornets’ 81-64 win. 

Thanks to her hot fourth quarter, Ward led the Hornets in scoring with 20 points and three rebounds. Emmanuel was not far behind, scoring 17 points and finishing with five assists and four rebounds. Rudolph shot 50% (3-of-6) from behind the arc on her way to a 13 point, seven assists, and four rebound performance. 

The team, as a whole, shot 56.3% from the field and 37.5% from the three-point range. They did, however, struggle from the free-throw line shooting 33.3% (3-of-9) for the game. Their offensive performance allowed them to overcome this shooting outlier. 

This win ties the Hornets up with Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University for third place in the Southwestern Athletic Conference standings. 

The Hornets continue their homestand as they face off against the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Rattlers at 5:30 on Jan 31.