ASU sophomore and former Bainbridge star April Thomas hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds of regulation to send Thursday's game into overtime, where the Lady Rams fell apart to fall to 1-5 overall.
ALBANY — April Thomas talked about how she wanted the Albany State women’s basketball team to go undefeated at home this season.
Now she’s hoping for an “and-one” season at home.
Thomas led a dramatic comeback Thursday night to force overtime, but it wasn’t enough as the Lady Rams fell to Shorter College, 53-49, in their home opener in the HPER gym.
“I really wanted to win this game,’’ said Thomas, a former Bainbridge star who led the Lady Rams with 20 points. “I wanted to go unbeaten at home.’’
ASU has struggled in the early part of the season and is now 1-5 after falling to Shorter, which outscored the Lady Rams, 7-3, in the overtime. ASU’s only points in OT came from Thomas, who hit a 3-pointer with 1:38 left to close the gap to 52-49, but that was it for ASU, which missed four shots and turned the ball over three time in the first three minutes of OT.
Shorter took advantage and scored twice on inside shots by Shelby Farrer and a 12-foot jumper by Ieshia Alexander to take a 52-46 lead with 1:55 left. ASU had a chance to cut into the 52-49 lead, but Mecca Frost missed the front end of a one-and-one with 45 seconds left, and Kristen Nash buried a free throw to give Shorter a four-point lead with 12 seconds left.
“It wasn’t particularly pretty, but it was exciting, and we were fortunate to come out on top,’’ said Shorter coach Vic Mitchell, whose team improved to 4-3. “We got those three baskets in a row and built the lead (to six points) in overtime and held on.’’
Mitchell was just breathing a sigh of relief after ASU stormed back in the final minute of regulation.
The Lady Rams led throughout the first half, and were up 29-26 at halftime, but Shorter, which was led by Nash (13 points) and Lynette Harris (11 points), took a 36-31 lead when Karisma Boykin hit a 3 with 12:45 left. ASU came back and took the lead on a 3-pointer by Thomas, who scored ASU’s final 11 points of the game on three treys and a drive. Thomas’ 3-pointer with 8:32 left gave ASU its final lead of the night, 41-40. The Lady Rams didn’t score again until Thomas hit a drive in traffic with 32 seconds left to cut the lead to 46-43.
When Shorter missed at the other end with 18 seconds left, ASU’s Kadeemya Cooper, who had 10 points and 13 rebounds, grabbed the rebound and kicked the ball out. Thomas hit a trey with 8.8 seconds left to knot things at 46-46 to send the game into OT.
Still, ASU coach Robert Skinner was concerned.
“When she made the 3, I was thinking we had five minutes in overtime to do something spectacular to win the ball game,’’ Skinner said. “I knew without consistent defense or offensive execution we would be in trouble.’’
Trouble showed up almost immediately.
ASU failed to stop Shorter inside to start the overtime and then had problems scoring.
“We ran four plays on offense and didn’t get a good shot, and on two of the plays we called, April went the wrong way,’’ Skinner said. “We didn’t execute on offense. It’s been that way this season, a lack of execution and people not being where they’re supposed to be.’’
Thomas said she was confused.
“We were in a basic offense, and I thought we were in a motion offense, so I was moving,’’ she said.
Thomas admitted she had a tough night shooting, going just 9-for-19, but she knew she had to make the big shot at the end of regulation.
“It was about time I made a shot,’’ she said. “That was a pretty big shot. Although I wasn’t really making my other shots, I hit the shot that counted, the one that made the difference.’’
Thomas, a sophomore from Bainbridge who led ASU in scoring as a freshman, said she rushed too many shots on Thursday and admitted she has been hurrying her shot this season.
“I’ve been rushing my shot all year,’’ she said. “They are not leaving me open like they did when I was a freshman, so I have had to have a quicker release to get my shot off.’’
Skinner said he believed in his kids.
“They played hard,’’ Skinner said. “I was real proud of the way they played. They played with a lot of heart. I think we’ll be prepared for the conference in January.’’