MELBOURNE, Fla. -- Despite great offensive efforts, both Albany State University Lady Rams and Golden Rams tipped off their 2010-11 seasons with losses to Florida Institute of Technology in opening-day action of the two-day FIT Tip-Off Challenge on Friday and Saturday in Melbourne, Fla.
The only Lady Ram scoring in double figures Friday was freshman guard Kourtney Alexander, who led Albany State with 16 points, but it was not enough as the Lady Rams took a 66-58 loss to the Lady Panthers.
On Saturday, Alexander had a game-high 19 points and five 3-pointers, but it wasn't enough for ASU, which fell, 61-52, to Rollins.
The Lady Rams (0-2) were down 39-26 at halftime after shooting 27.3 percent before intermission. They finished the game at 32.8 percent, compared to Rollins' 40.7.
Jasmine Bradley and Amber Heistan combined for 23 points for Rollins, which improved to 2-0, despite losing the rebounding battle, 44-34.
On Friday, Alexander scored 16 points on 6-of-14 from the field and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line before fouling out. She also grabbed five rebounds for the Lady Rams. Junior guard Symone Wilkerson scored nine points after hitting 4-of-4 from the free-throw line and two from the field.
"The stats were pretty even across the board, but the game was won and lost at the free-throw line. Tech was 24-of-34 from the line and we were 19-of-27," said assistant coach Khadijah Ali, who replaced head coach Robert Skinner who was with his Lady Rams volleyball team at the SIAC Volleyball Championship Tournament. "We lost by eight points and missed eight free throws. We gave up 24 free points. Despite all, I was satisfied with the hustle and effort from the entire team."
As for the men, the results were basically the same: an 0-2 start to the season.
On Friday, junior guard Marcus Benitez led the Golden Rams in double figures but ASU still lost, 83-79, to the Panthers.
Benitez paced Albany State with a team-high 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting and 4-of-5 free throw shooting. Three other Rams scored in double figures, including senior guard Stephen Francis, who added 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting. Junior forward DeMarcus Blunt hit three three-point shots and 4-of-8 from the field for 11 points, and junior forward Brian Thornton scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
The Rams took a 32-38 deficit at the half, but outscored the Panthers in the second half 47-45. The Rams took a lead with 3:11 in the second half, but the Panthers rallied back to take the win. The Rams scored 27-of-60 from the field and 17-of-24 from the free-throw line.
Although his team lost its season opener, head coach Christopher Cameron said he was pleased with the team's performance.
"I am pleased with how we played against Florida Tech," Cameron said. "Despite the loss, we played with a lot of heart."
On Saturday, Tampa used a second-half surge to put away ASU, 72-57.
The Rams (0-2) shot well in the first half and were only down 32-31 at the break, but went ice cold after that, shooting 29.2 percent the rest of the way.
Blunt (12 points), Benitez (10) and De'Andre Johnson (14) were the only double-digit scorers for ASU.
The Lady Rams will make their home debut against GSW on Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. at ASU's HPER Gymnasium. The Rams, meanwhile, will travel to Valdosta to take on the Valdosta State University Blazers on Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m. Both teams will tipoff SIAC action at home against the Miles College Golden Bears on Nov. 27.
GSW MEN LOSE OPENER TO D-I KENNESAW STATE: The Georgia Southwestern men's basketball team jumped out to an early 7-0 lead on Division I Kennesaw State late Friday evening at KSU Convocation Center, but the host Owls answered with a 13-3 run of their own and led the rest of the way to defeat the Hurricanes, 82-62, in the 2010-11 season opener for both schools.
Leading 40-28 at the half, Markeith Cummings started things after intermission for Kennesaw State with his lone three-pointer of the contest to make it 43-28. The Hurricanes would hold their own for the next several minutes, cutting the lead to 45-35 with 18:02 remaining in the game on a Phillip Brown three-point basket. That would be as close as GSW would get, as KSU went on a 15-7 run over the next 5:55 to open an 18-point cushion.
GSW turned the ball over 22 times in the contest, while Kennesaw State committed 12 turnovers. Both schools pulled down 32 rebounds. The Owls held a small advantage in assists (17-14) and steals (7-4).
Matt Shaw led Southwestern with 17 points. Brown scored 12 points and added a team-high nine rebounds and four assists. Trayce Macon chipped in eight points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes of action.
Cummings led all scorers with 24 points. Aaron Anderson added 19 points for KSU.
The Hurricanes return to action on Saturday (Nov. 20) when they host Knoxville College at 4 p.m.
ALBANY TECH MEN, WOMEN REMAIN UNBEATEN: The Titans moved to 4-0 on the season with a 90-56 rout of Middle Georgia Tech on Saturday, thanks to 11 points from Raheem James, and 10 each from Justin Wilcox and Jamorris Gaines.
Also shining, said coach Sylvester Patterson, was former Monroe star Eric Walker, who came off the bench and scored eight.
Not to be outdone, however, were the Lady Titans, who moved to 3-0 with their own victory against MGT, 68-21.
For the second straight game, former Worth County star Ann Wilcher posted a double-double, this time with 20 points and 20 rebounds. Quaneesha Smith added eight points and 10 rebounds.
ATC returns to action Monday when both squads travel to face Brewton-Parker.