Alcorn State ousted in first round of SWAC Tournament

Published 8:21 pm Wednesday, March 13, 2024

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Alcorn State entered the Southwestern Athletic Conference men’s basketball tournament as the hottest team in the league.

It only took one game to have that fire doused for good.

Lorenzo Downey scored 16 points, including 11 in a row during a decisive second-half run, as Alabama A&M beat Alcorn State 75-63 in the first round of the SWAC Tournament on Wednesday.

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Alcorn (14-18) entered the tournament on a nine-game winning streak that pushed them to the No. 2 seed. It led the seventh-seeded Bulldogs (11-21) by three points at halftime, and 51-45 with 13:04 remaining, but A&M suddenly got hot from 3-point range to rocket ahead for good.

Dylan McLean hit back-to-back 3-pointers to tie it, Omari Peek scored the next two baskets to put the Bulldogs ahead, and then Downey brought it home.

Downey made three 3-pointers and two free throws. His last 3-pointer gave Alabama A&M a 66-56 lead with 5:35 remaining. Alcorn did not get closer than seven points after that.

Alabama A&M was 1-for-11 from 3-point range in the first half, but 4-for-6 during its game-changing run. Downey was 4-for-5 from distance in the game.

Peek joined Downey with 16 points and McLean scored eight.

“I am so proud of our young men and how they kept fighting today,” Alabama A&M head coach Otis Hughley Jr. said. “To beat a team who won nine straight games and ran the table during the second half of the season is remarkable. We took their best punch in that first half, but in that second half, I felt like we did some things defensively to change their game plan. It also helped that we were shooting the ball extremely well.”

Alabama A&M advanced to the semifinals on Friday, to face either Texas Southern or Jackson State. Those teams play Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m. All SWAC Tournament games are being streamed on ESPN+.

Alcorn’s leading scorer was Jeremiah Gambrell, with 16 points. Dekedran Thorn scored 12, Jalyke Gaines-Wyatt had 10, and Jeremiah Kendall finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.