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LOCAL COLLEGE ROUNDUP: ASU men’s hoops crushes Benedict, top team in conference, 65-51; Lady Rams fall in double overtime

ASU men's basketball coach Chris Cameron led his team to a huge road win Thursday against Benedict --- the top team in the conference.

ASU men's basketball coach Chris Cameron led his team to a huge road win Thursday against Benedict --- the top team in the conference.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The No. 1 team in the conference fell off its perch Thursday night. And the Albany State men’s basketball team made sure of that.

The Rams, who struggled early in the season to find consistency, went back to basics Thursday night — what coach Chris Cameron called playing “Albany State basketball” — and came away with their biggest win of the season, 65-51, against Benedict, which came into the game as the top team in the conference.

Darton’s Mitchell named Region XVII Player of the Week; ASU hoops team to play conference tournament in Atlanta

ALBANY — The Region XVII coaches Thursday recognized Darton College leading scorer Michelle Mitchell as its Player of the Week.

The 5-foot-9 freshman and former Dodge County star scored 25 points and had 11 rebounds Tuesday in a big 57-36 win against neighboring and region rival Albany Tech. Mitchell dominated the game from start to finish.

“She is a tremendous athlete. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of talented kids, but she is one of the fastest players I’ve had the pleasure to coach,” said Darton first-year head coach Lea Henry, who has coached at the Division I level at Tennessee, Mercer, Georgia State, Stetson and the University of Florida. “I mean, on an open floor, it’s like she shoots out of a cannon.”

Mitchell, a member of the NJCAA All-Academic Team, said she was honored by the award.

“It’s a respectful position to have,” said Mitchell, who leads the team ins coring with 18 points a game. “I’ve been practicing hard and I want to carry my team as far as we can go.”

Darton is 9-4 overall and 4-3 in region play.

DARTON WRESTLING SET TO COMPETE IN OHIO MEET THIS WEEKEND: The Darton College wrestling team is headed to Alliance, Ohio, this weekend to participate in the 2012 Mount Union Purple Raider Open. This is Darton’s second-to-last open meet of the season before they compete in the NJCAA qualifier Feb. 11. Darton’s last meet of the season is Jan. 21 at the Shorter College Open.

The Cavs, who are coached by first-year head man Chris Fleeger of Indiana, has been led this season by Trey Hicks, a sophomore from Tifton, freshman Casey Soileau of Orange Park, Fla., and Raheem Hill, of Lithonia.

The following teams are scheduled to compete: Division I programs — Michigan State, Kent State, Ohio University, Buffalo and Cleveland State; Division II programs — Mercyhurst, Lake Erie, Notre Dame and West Liberty; Division III — Mount Union; NJCAA — Jamestown CC, Niagara County CC, Darton College and Mercyhurst Northeast; Club programs — Cincinnati Club.

ASU’S CONFERENCE BASKETBALL TOURNEY BACK IN ATLANTA: For the third consecutive year, Albany State’s conference basketball tournament will be hosted in Atlanta. The 2012 tournament will tip-off Feb. 28 and last through March 3 at Frank L. Forbes Arena on the campus of Morehouse.

“We locked them down. Put that Albany State defense on them. That’s been our goal all year — hold teams to between 50 and 60 points — and we almost kept ‘em to 49 if we hadn’t given up that last basket,” Cameron said. “We just executed our game plan, and that was to play Albany State basketball. It was a total team effort.”

Former Albany Tech star Justin Wilcox led the way with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Demetrie Jones and Rachad Lofton each added eight. ASU’s defense held Benedict to 35 percent shooting from the floor to improve to 5-5 overall and 4-4 in conference play.

BENEDICT WOMEN 80, ASU 77, 2 OT: The Lady Rams almost made it a clean sweep of the conference’s No. 1 teams Tuesday, but lost in a heartbreaker to snap their three-game winning streak. ASU fell to 4-8 overall and 4-4 in the conference.

The Lady Rams thwarted a last-second shot in regulation by Benedict to force OT, where Nicole Wilson had a chance to all but seal the game at the free-throw line. With ASU up by one point with six seconds to go, Wilson went 1-for-2, leaving the door open for the Lady Tigers, who rushed down the floor and hit a last-second shot to send the game to a second OT. But with stars Symone Wilkerson and April Thomas fouling out in the second extra frame, Benedict escaped with the win. Thomas led with 21 points, followed by Brianna Fields (20) and Kourtney Alexander (14).

“We fought back after being down 15 in the second half, and even led at one point,” ASU coach Robert Skinner said. “But we came up short. Although in doing so, we showed a lot of heart. It’s a tough loss, but Benedict is No. 1 for a reason.”

Both ASU teams return to action Saturday when they travel to face Paine College.

ALBANY TECH MEN BEAT CENTRAL GEORGIA TECH, WOMEN LOSE: The Albany Tech men’s and women’s basketball teams split a pair of game Thursday night against Central Georgia Tech as the Titans (9-8, 3-2 in Region XVII) prevailed in overtime, 77-70, while the Lady Titans (11-5, 3-2) fell hard, 82-67.

Former Westover star and Willie Boston Player of the Year Terrance Noel had his second huge game in a row, scoring 25 points one game after dropping 30 for the Titans. Former Worth County star Jamorris Gaines added 15, another former Westover star, Kenji Breedlove, added 14 and Antonio Allen had the team’s only double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

“We were down three with a few seconds left and Gaines hit a 3-pointer to send it to overtime, and we just ran away from there,” ATC men’s coach Sylvester Patterson said. “I think that 3 took their heart away. We scored the first six points in overtime and never looked back.”

As for the women, they lost despite a huge night from Shakima Wiggins, who scored 30. Bianca Fennessee added a double-double (15 points, 14 rebounds) but it wasn’t enough.

“I think all the winning we did early in the season has made us a little complacent,” ATC women’s coach Kenneth Williams said. “We have to get back in the gym and get that fire back.”

Both teams will next host Middle Georgia College on Saturday.

GEORGIA PERIMETER WOMEN 57, DARTON COLLEGE 45: Fresh off a 21-point beating of local rival Albany Tech, the Lady Cavs were flat Thursday in a loss to unbeaten region foe Georgia Perimeter. No player scored in doubled figures as former Dougherty star Lakendra Beeks led the way with nine points and nine rebounds.

“We didn’t play well, turned the ball over a lot and didn’t shoot well,” Darton coach Lea Henry said. “I don’t think we (were over-confident) after Tuesday’s win (against Albany Tech). I think we just didn’t play well.”

Darton returns to action Saturday at Chattahoochee Tech.

EAST GEORGIA 68 WOMEN, ANDREW COLLEGE 63: The Lady Tigers, playing their first game since the holiday break, were rusty Thursday and it showed. With just four practices under their belts after nearly a month off, Andrew (10-6, 0-4) couldn’t muster much offense against one of Region XVII’s last winless teams. Kellie Bacon led the way with 14 points, followed by 12 from Kierra Wright and a double-double from Jebreal Alford (11 points, 11 rebounds).

Andrew returns to action Saturday at home against Atlanta Metro.