MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama State University men’s basketball team rebounded in a big way on Saturday night as the Hornets rolled past Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 77-65, in a Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) game at the Dunn-Oliver Acadome.
“It was a good win and a good win for the Hornets,” Alabama State head men’s basketball coach Lewis Jackson said. “I thought our guys came out with a lot of energy and the right attitude. We talked about the second nine (conference games) and we have a three-game homestand and we’ve got to come out and play good basketball. I thought we did that tonight. We had 14 assists and got to the free-throw line a lot.”
The Hornets (6-16 overall, 4-6 SWAC) had three players in double figures and held a 36-35 edge on the glass. Alabama State went to the free-throw line 37 times and closed the game out by going 7-of-10 in the final minute.
“We lost some games down the stretch, whether it was turning the ball over or making free throws,” Jackson said. “We didn’t do a very good job of shooting them (free throws) tonight. We got to the free-throw line a lot tonight, but when we do, we’ve got to make them count.”
Reginald Gee led the way offensively with 20 points, including three 3-pointers, four rebounds and one assist. He finished the game going 9-of-12 from the charity stripe. Tony Armstrong came off the bench and nearly racked up a double-double. He tallied 17 points, on 6-of-7 shooting, nine boards, including seven on the defensive end, and two assists. Torloft Thomas added three 3-pointers and 15 points, three rebounds, two steals and one assist.
After a slow start, Alabama State used an 8-0 run as Gee accounted for six of those points to give the Hornets a 16-10 advantage with 11:06 remaining in the opening half.
The Golden Lions (5-19, 4-6) closed the gap to 18-15 after a 3-pointer by JoeRandle Toliver with 9:35 left in the opening half, but Alabama State responded with a 13-5 run, capped by Gee sinking 1-of-2 from the foul line after a technical foul was assessed to Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s Marcus Wallace with 4:15 remaining.
The Golden Lions controlled the final 3:50 of the first half and outscored the Hornets, 11-1, to enter to break tied at 31.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff led 38-34 after a Trent Steed layup with 16:21 left, but free throws by Gee and a layup by Amir Warnock tied the game at 38 with 15:27 left.
Over the next seven minutes, neither team held a lead larger the four points, but with 8:56 remaining, the Hornets used a 9-2 run to grab a 61-53 advantage after two free throws by Thomas. Alabama State, which shot 48.9 percent (23-of-47) from the floor, extended the margin after a three-point play by Mikel Tyson gave the Hornets a commanding 70-58 with 1:37 left.
The Golden Lions never got any closer than eight points down the stretch.
Toliver scored all 18 points from behind the 3-point arc to pace Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Steen and Travon Harper each had 10 points as the Golden Lions shot 40 percent (24-of-60) from the floor and 64.3 percent (9-of-14) from the free-throw line.
Alabama State turns its attention to Monday night as the Hornets host Mississippi Valley State. The Delta Devils won the first contest this season, 73-70, in Itta Bena, Miss., on Jan. 7.
“There are no easy games in this league,” Jackson said. “They beat us at their place by a few points and we turned it over a lot. I expect another tough ball game come Monday night.”
Tip-off on Monday night is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Dunn-Oliver Acadome.