Former Bainbridge star April Thomas was on fire Thursday against Miles, scoring a career-high 33 points in a big conference win for the Lady Rams.
ALBANY – Thursday night turned into Albany State’s April Thomas versus Miles’ Toccara Charles.
The Lady Rams’ freshman held her own, scoring a season- and career-high 33 points, and led ASU to a huge 81-69 conference win despite 10 3-pointers from Charles.
Thomas hit five 3s in the first half and poured in 25 points before the Lady Bears started tracking her like a bloodhound in the second half, but it didn’t matter with Albany State shooting 50 percent for the game.
“I can’t explain it,” said Thomas, who hit on 5-of-9 3-pointers and was deadly on the perimeter and with the drive. “It makes me must want to jump. It felt good.”
Thomas and Charles, who finished with 30 points, went toe-to-toe in the first half, both connecting on five treys and constantly answered each other’s big shots. Miles’ Charles made 10-of-15 from behind the arc, but didn’t score from anywhere else on the floor.
“She’d hit one, I’d hit one,” Thomas said. “She would go down and hit one and I’d know I’d have to hit one, too.”
Tied at 29-29 with 5:06 left before halftime, the Lady Rams (7-10, 7-6 conference) went on a 10-0 spurt in a span of 2:13. Thomas started it with a three and also had one of her four steals on the night that led to an easy transition bucket. Breanna Fields added her own stick-back basket with 2:13 left before half to put ASU ahead 39-29.
Miles got as close as six on Courtney English’s jumper with 7:27 to play but never could close the gap after that. The Lady Bears, which beat ASU, 64-59, at home in mid-December, were coming off a win against Fort Valley State and were sky-high before being brought back to earth on Thursday at HPER Gym.
“We knew they were a little hot after that win (against Fort Valley) and thought they might be vulnerable,” Lady Rams head coach Robert Skinner said. “We’ll take it, and I’ll thank Fort Valley for that win.”
While Thomas was being dogged in the second-half and scored just eight points, ASU had three others finish in double-figures. Fields and Symone Wilkerson each scored 15, while Kourtney Alexander added 10. Wilkerson had 12 assists and three steals in the win.
ASU next travels to Clark Atlanta on Tuesday.
MILES COLLEGE MEN 60, ALBANY STATE 56: The Rams shot 25 percent in the first half and somehow hung around with a shot to win it at the end. Jaren Harris got an open look on a go-ahead 3-pointer with less than 15 seconds to play, but the shot bounced off the front iron to seal a home loss in conference play.
“Couldn’t hit a basket all night,” Rams head coach Chris Cameron said. “We had our opportunities.”
Miles handled ASU inside, outrebounding the Rams, 46-31, and had second-chance opportunities all night, taking advantage in the second half to the tune of 62 percent shooting from the field. ASU (7-8, 6-8 conference) went 3-for-21 from 3-point land and two of its best scorers, Harris and Justin Wilcox, combined to go 2-for-22 from the floor.
Miles (8-9, 8-7 conference) built a 10-point lead with six minutes to play before the Rams came alive, even though leading scorer Demarcus Blunt, who dropped in 21 in the loss, went without a bucket over the final five minutes after experiencing leg cramps.
Andrew Covin’s 3-pointer with 1:50 left cut the Bears’ lead to 55-54 and Stephen Francis tied it at 56-56 with 51 seconds left with a driving lay-in before Miles’ Eric Lipkin’s jumper gave the Bears the lead back for good.
“It was huge for us,” Miles head coach Will Cotchery said of the conference road win. “We had been on a three-game losing streak. To get off the snide (was big) because we knew Albany had been playing well.”
Covin finished with seven, but outside of Blunt, no other Rams finished in double-figures. Miles was led by Richard Harper’s 17 points and 10 rebounds.
ASU next plays host to Morehouse on Saturday.
GEORGIA PERIMETER WOMEN 83, ANDREW COLLEGE 52: The Andrew College women’s basketball team remained in a slump Thursday following an 83-52 loss to Georgia Perimeter.
Andrew started the season 6-0, but has gone just 4-11 since and remained winless in Region XVII play at 0-9.
Whitney Edwards led the Lady Tigers in scoring with 16 points, followed by 14 from Jebreal Alford and 12 from Angel Penn.
Andrew’s next game is on the road Saturday at Chattahoochee Tech.