Former Worth County star Josh Alford scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds Tuesday night, but it came in a loss by Albany State to LeMoyne-Owen.
ALBANY — Josh Alford knew something didn’t feel right.
The Albany State sophomore and former Worth County star sensed something a little off during the Rams’ shootaround before Tuesday’s game against LeMoyne-Owen College.
He was right.
The Rams, who had won four out of five coming into Tuesday’s conference crucial game, suffered their worst loss of the season, 83-65.
“We weren’t fired up like we usually are,” said Alford, who scored 13 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds in a loss that dropped the Rams (7-7 overall, 6-6 in conference) down several notches in the tightly-packed standings. “It was just a lack of focus before the game.”
The Magicians (8-7, 8-5) continued to surge in conference, winning their third in a row after beating top-ranked Benedict and No. 3 Paine College last week. The Rams were also coming off their hottest streak of the season with recent conference wins against Benedict, Kentucky State, Fort Valley State and Lane. But the Rams team that had risen to the top half of the conference wasn’t the same squad that ASU coach Chris Cameron saw play in front of nearly 700 in attendance at HPER
“The one thing about coaching college basketball is that you deal with 18 to 23-year-old guys,” Cameron said. “You want them to come out and be ready to play, but I don’t think we were ready to play (Tuesday night). We didn’t play with effort.”
Lemoyne-Owen jumped out to a big lead and held a double-digit advantage for the rest of the game, leading by as many as 24 midway through the second half.
Senior Marcus Benitez led the Rams with 17 points, but the 6-foot-6 guard was 5-for-15 from the field and 2-for-9 from behind the arc. Senior Stephen Francis added 13 points, while former Albany Tech stars Justin Wilcox and Demarcus Blunt each scored eight points. The Magicians were led by Teshawn Byron, who was 9-for-12 from the field for 22 points and seven rebounds.
“We knew that Albany had a nice, little win streak going, so we just came out and played hard,” third-year LeMoyne-Owen coach William Anderson said.
Tuesday’s game kicked off a three-game home stand for the Rams, who host Miles on Thursday and Morehouse on Saturday, and Cameron is hopeful his team will come out with that same fire that had helped them win five of seven games in January before falling to LeMoyne-Owen.
“I think they will come out and respond,” Cameron said. “They know they didn’t play well, and if we are going to accomplish some of the things we want to accomplish, we’ve got to play well. We’ve got to do better. We won’t know till Thursday, but I think they will respond.”
LEMOYNE-OWEN WOMEN 76, ASU 66: The Albany State women came out on fire Tuesday against LeMoyne-Owen.
And then the Lady Rams shooters went ice cold in the 10-point loss, leaving ASU coach Robert Skinner shaking his head after the game.
“You tell me,” said Skinner, when asked what happened to his team’s shooting touch. “I have no idea how you stop shooting the ball well. We shot the ball often and we shot it well in the first half. In the second half, we came out with a totally different demeanor.”
The Lady Rams, who fell to 6-10 overall and 6-6 in the conference with the loss, missed just one free throw and were 42 percent from the field in the first half. In the final 20 minutes, ASU shot 33 percent from the field.
Coming into Tuesday’s game, the surging Lady Rams had won three home games in a row and were 6-3 since opening the season with six straight losses. ASU led LeMoyne-Owen (7-8, 6-7) for much of the first half and was up by seven points before the Lady Magicians went on a 13-5 run just before the break to take a halftime lead, which they never relinquished.
ASU freshman and former Bainbridge star April Thomas led the Lady Rams with 20 points, while Breanna Fields added 19 points. Shonice Sprouse led the Lady Magicians with 25 points.
Darton women rout East Georgia
SWAINSBORO — Christina Brown scored 18 points to lead the Darton women’s basketball team to a 54-41 victory Tuesday at Region XVII opponent East Georgia.
Freshman phenom Michelle Mitchell also added 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Lady Cavs.
It was the third win in a row and fifth in the last six games for Darton (12-6, 7-3), which plays again Friday in Macon against Central Georgia.