Alcorn State clinches first SWAC regular-season basketball title since 2002
Published 10:10 am Friday, March 4, 2022
LORMAN — It wasn’t easy, but that’s been par for the course for Alcorn State’s men’s basketball team this season. And nothing worth having ever comes easy anyway.
Alcorn let an 18-point lead slip away Thursday before rallying in the last three minutes to beat Mississippi Valley State 72-69. With the win, Alcorn clinched the Southwestern Athletic Conference regular-season championship for the first time since 2002.
Alcorn State (14-15, 13-4 SWAC) has a one-game lead over Texas Southern (14-12, 12-5) heading into Saturday’s regular-season finales but owns the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Tigers after sweeping their season series. Alcorn will thus be the No. 1 seed for the SWAC Tournament next week in Birmingham.
Alcorn hosts Arkansas-Pine Bluff (7-23, 5-12) Saturday at 5 p.m. to finish the regular season.
Thursday’s win over Mississippi Valley State (2-25, 2-15) was Alcorn’s eighth this season by four points or less.
After some early back-and-forth, Alcorn went on a 13-0 run late in the first half to take a 39-21 lead. It still led by 14 points at halftime, but Valley made a run of its own in the last 10 minutes.
The Delta Devils outscored Alcorn 40-29 in the second half, and took a 63-62 lead on a jumper by Terry Collins with 3:11 remaining. Justin Thomas put Alcorn back in front with a pair of free throws about 30 seconds later, however, and stayed just ahead of Valley the rest of the way.
Thomas’ free throws were the first of six straight points he scored for the Braves, and part of a 9-2 run that put them ahead 71-65 with 11 seconds left. Gary Grant hit four free throws for Valley in the final seconds, but the Delta Devils never had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead.
Grant finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Collins scored a game-high 24 points for Valley. David McCoy also had 14 points and eight rebounds.
Thomas and Dontrell McQuarter led Alcorn with 14 points apiece, while Lenell Henry had eight points and 13 rebounds. Keondre Montgomery added 10 points.