LOCAL COLLEGE HOOPS ROUNDUP: Seasons end in conference tourneys for ASU, GSW hoops

ATLANTA — The regular season and postseason are over for the Albany State men’s and women’s basketball teams.

And now it’s time for the offseasons to begin.

The Lady Rams lost to Stillman on Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, 91-73, after shooting just 25 percent from the floor in the first half and watching helplessly as the Lady Tigers built a commanding 54-33 lead.

“It was our worst defensive game of the season by far,” ASU coach Robert Skinner said of his team, which finishes 11-17 overall. “(Stillman was) just having their way with us.” ASU cut the Stillman lead to nine points twice in the second half, but never got closer.

The Lady Rams lose three seniors — all of them starters: Symone Wilkerson, Breanna Fields and former Randolph-Clay star Precious Peak. Wilkerson scored 20 in Thursday’s loss, while freshman April Thomas of Bainbridge, who the Lady Rams will try to build around, led with 21.

The news for the men wasn’t much better as the Rams fell, 55-51, to Kentucky State after being held to just 15 points in the first half.

“It was close to our season low (for a first half), if not the lowest,” ASU coach Chris Cameron said. “But we cut it to three with 21 seconds to go and actually had the ball with a chance to tie, but Jaren (Harris’) shot came up short. We went down fighting, playing Albany State basketball, and that’s all I can ask.”

The men’s team, which ends its season 13-15 overall one year after winning just seven games, loses six seniors — three of them starters (Marcus Benetiz, Demarcus Blunt and Mike Tippins), as well as Stephen Francis, Demetrius Jones and former Randolph-Clay star Brian Thornton.

Benetiz led the Rams on Thursday with 12 points.

The good news, however, is that ASU returns all three of its leading scorers: Harris, Justin Wilcox and Rachard Lofton, all of whom are juniors.

GSW WOMEN SEE HISTORIC SEASON ENDS: A season of firsts came to an end for the Georgia Southwestern women’s basketball team in the first round of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament on Thursday as they were unable to avenge an earlier-season loss to No. 23 Lander in a 74-66 loss.

Seniors Jessica Bivins and Terra Branch led the way for the Blue & Gold with 19 and 16 points, respectively.

The loss officially ended the season for GSW and its five seniors: Branch, Bivins, Tania Walters, Samantha Smith and Jessica Jones.

But make no mistake, this group made history.

Their 18 total wins and 10 conference victories cemented this season as the program’s best since joining the NCAA Division II and the Peach Belt Conference in 2006.

Their season of highlights culminated with Adrian Randall (Peach Belt Third Team selection) and Branch (Second Team) becoming the first players in Georgia Southwestern women’s basketball history to earn post-season All-Conference accolades.