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LOCAL COLLEGE HOOPS ROUNDUP: ASU women extend season with win in conference tourney opener; ATC men win finale; GSW women place two on All-PBC team

Adrian Randall, left, and Tierra Branch both earned All-PBC honors Tuesday after their record-breaking seasons for the Lady Hurricanes.

Adrian Randall, left, and Tierra Branch both earned All-PBC honors Tuesday after their record-breaking seasons for the Lady Hurricanes.

ATLANTA — The Albany State women’s basketball team overcame a poor shooting night and came from behind to beat Claflin, 57-51, in Tuesday’s opening-round game in the conference tournament.

With the victory, the No. 7 seed Lady Rams advance to play No. 2 Stillman at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

“You can’t be upset with a win, even though we struggled to get it,” said Skinner, whose Lady Rams (11-16) trailed at halftime before mounting a second-half comeback. “We didn’t protect the ball, and we didn’t hit free throws. We are just grateful for the win and looking forward to playing again.”

The Lady Rams shot 18-for-36 from the free throw line to barely beat a team that they swept in the regular season. Symone Wilkerson led ASU in scoring, but complete stats were not available at The Herald’s press time.

ASU and Stillman split in the regular season, but Skinner knows his team needs to play better than it did Tuesday night to move on in the tournament.

“We’ve gotta do a better job shooting,” Skinner said. “And we have to loosen up and play. We were just too tight.”

ALBANY TECH MEN CLOSE REGULAR SEASON WITH WIN, WAIT ON TOURNEY SEED: The Titans beat Waycross late Monday night, 66-46, to close their regular season at 15-15 overall and 9-9 in Region XVII play.

Albany Tech was led by former Worth County star Jamorris Gaines’ 22 points and six rebounds, while Tony Fears added 12.

The Titans, who currently sit at No. 4 in the region standings, need Waycross to lose tonight in its regular-season finale to secure home-court advantage for the first round of the conference tournament, which opens Tuesday with ATC hosting Chatahoochee Tech. If Waycross beats Middle Georgia, which is currently No. 2 in conference, then ATC would fall to the No. 5 seed and have to travel to play Waycross again.

GSW PLACES TWO ON PEACH BELT ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM: The 2011-12 Peach Belt All-Conference teams were announced Tuesday for women’s basketball, and two Georgia Southwestern stars made the cut.

Both junior forward Adrian Randall and senior guard Terra Branch took home honors. Branch received Second Team All-PBC honors, and Randall received Third Team All-PBC honors. It marked the first time in the NCAA Division II era that a Georgia Southwestern Lady Hurricane has been named to a Peach Belt All-Conference team. It’s another firsts in a historic season for the Blue & Gold, who have just wrapped up their best regular season in the Division II era (18-8, 10-7 PBC), and they have earned their second-ever Peach Belt Conference Tournament berth.

GSW will open the conference tourney Thursday at 3 p.m. at Lander in the opening round.

Branch, an Athens native, not only led the Lady Hurricanes in scoring, but she has been one of the top scorers in the Peach Belt Conference all season. She is currently third in scoring at 16.4 points per game after spending much of the season in second place. She ranks in the Top 10 in five categories, including scoring, free throw percentage, three-point percentage, made field goals and minutes played. She has scored in double digits in every single PBC game, while scoring 20 points or more four times against conference teams. She set career-high in points this season (30) against Francis Marion on Jan. 28. She has also set — then broke — her career-high in assists (7 versus Montevallo and 8 versus Georgia College) against PBC teams this season. Branch also became only the second GSW Lady Hurricane to score 1,000 career points in a Georgia Southwestern uniform.

Randall, a junior transfer from Marshall and Brooklyn native, was the anchor for the Lady Hurricanes’ defense. She was second in the PBC in with 2.6 blocks per game and third in rebounding with 10.4 rebounds per game. Her six blocked shots against Jaymee Carnes and North Georgia was tied for the most blocks in a game against a PBC opponent with fellow top shot blockers Carnes and former Monroe star Dominique Gilbert of Columbus State.

Branch’s career-high 17 rebounds were against in-conference foe Montevallo, while she grabbed 16 rebounds against two PBC opponents (North Georgia and Georgia College). Offensively, Randall is in the Top 20 in four key categories, including scoring, offensive rebounds, free throw percentage, and field goal percentage. She also became first player in program history to earn Player of the Week accolades on December 15th.