ASU leading scorer April Thomas scored just 12 against Benedict on Thursday as the Lady Rams fell, 84-72.
Westwood girls close out regular season on 11-game win streak, head to region tourney as No. 1 seed
CAMILLA — The Westwood girls basketball team closed out the regular season the same way they started 2013: winning, and winning easily.
The Lady Wildcats routed Valwood on Thursday, 65-19, behind 11 points from Callie Smith and eight each from Hannah Hinesley, Blakely Handfield and Rachel Harrell.
Every player on Westwood’s roster scored in the win, which was the Lady Wildcats’ 11th in a row dating back to mid-December. Westwood improved to 17-3 overall and finished the regular season 8-0 in Region 3-AA, which the program moved up to this offseason after years in Class A.
Next up is Westwood’s first crack at a region title in its new class. The region tournament’s play-in games will be held Tuesday, followed by the semis and finals Thursday and Friday, respectively, at SGA.
ALBANY -- Twenty points in less than three minutes. It was a whirlwind of offense and turnovers that Benedict used to open up a 33-9 lead midway through the first and held on 84-72 to complete a season sweep of Albany State's Lady Rams.
After trailing by 32 in the second half, ASU did manage to make things interesting late by trimming the lead to 76-65 on April Thomas' driving lay-up with 4:38 to play. Kedeemya Cooper hit a 3-pointer with 1:35 left to cut the deficit back to 80-69, but that was as close as the Lady Rams could get.
"We played a lot better the second half," said Lady Rams' lone senior Danielle Colson, who was playing her final game at HPER Gymnasium. "We put up a fight at the end. The press was what got us back in the game."
But it was that epic run by Benedict in the first half that put the Lady Rams in a huge whole.
The Lady Tigers led just 13-7 with 13:10 left in the first before the wheels fell off for ASU and Benedict couldn't miss.
Four threes later, two from Monique Weathers, and a 20-2 run in 2:51 had just happened. Weathers' second 3-pointers capped off the massive run with 9:22 left in the first.
ASU (8-11, 6-6) managed to cut the lead to 38-17 on a four-point play from Kourtney Alexander and got as close as 38-21, but the Lady Tigers (13-11, 10-2) took a 46-25 lead into half.
"We're just inconsistent," said Colson, who said her favorite memory in HPER was homecoming against Fort Valley State. "Most nights we're good one half and not the other."
Benedict shot 54 percent from the floor for the game and went 8 for 16 from 3. After shooting under 30 percent in the first and 1 for 12 behind the arc, ASU rebounded to shoot just under 40 percent for the game.
Thomas, held to just one point in the first, finished with 12. Cooper led ASU with 25 points and seven boards. Alexander added 18, hitting 4 of 13 3-point attempts.
Ashley Thompson scored 16 to pace Benedict, the second place team in the East division. She went 4 for 4 from beyond the arc.
ASU hits the road the final four games of the season before the conference tournament begins Feb. 25 at Morehouse College in Atlanta. The Lady Rams travel to Paine College Saturday.
"We've still got a ways to go," Colson said. "The tournament is like a new season. Everybody goes in 0-0."
BENEDICT MEN 63, ASU 40: Marcus Goode is a large man.
Benedict College's senior center, all 6-foot-10, 295 pounds of him, is not a good matchup for Albany State.
Goode, the two two-time conference Player of the Year, swatted and redirected shots inside all night, leading the Tigers to a 63-40 win over the Rams.
When Goode hit a 3-pointer with 5:37 left in the first half to put the Tigers up 27-8, it was clear this wasn't the Rams' night.
"Some teams just have your number and they have ours," ASU head coach Chris Cameron said. "We just haven't found a way to compete against them. (Goode) is an All-American. We told the guys what he's capable of doing."
The Rams, who deploy only three players over 6-foot-5 and none nearly the size of Goode, went away from the inside game after Goode rejected the fifth shot of the first half. That didn't work well either with the Rams shooting 16 percent from the field in the first and 0 for 10 from 3-point land.
"We should have played better," Camerson said. "We're not (23 points) worse than that team."
Goode, who entered the game 5 for 13 from behind the arc for the season, hit three treys and finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and five blocks.
ASU (5-14, 4-9) went more than eight minutes without a field goal and fell behind 33-11 at the break.
After the game at least one player was vocally upset with the three-game losing streak and let it be known. Asked if his players were just frustrated, Cameron said, "I don't know. All we can do now is determine the players that want to play and get ready for the conferfence (playoffs)."
Benedict (15-6, 11-2) was led by Xavier Collier's 16 points. ASU had no players in double figures and was led by Curtis Fluker's eight points and 11 rebounds.
After winning four of five during a recent hot shooting stretch, the Rams have gone cold down the stretch with three consecutive losses in league play. ASU goes to Paine College Saturday and plays four of its final five on the road. The last home game of the season is Feb. 21 against Morehouse College at HPER Gym.
Darton men, women win region titles; nationals in N.Y. next
ALBANY — The Darton State College men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams wrapped up their regular seasons Thursday with a dominating pair of wins in the region tournament against South Georgia College.
The men won, 220-141, while the women cruised just as easily, 218-133.
The victory not only secures the region crown for the programs, but it sends Darton to nationals a little less than a month from now with plenty of momentum.
“Overall, we won every event but one on each side,” women’s coach Molly Gilbert said of the near clean sweep by the Cavs and Lady Cavs. “(Both men’s coach Will Breehl and I) were very happy.”
Darton’s top two divers, Crawford Berry and Kelsey Carniglia, already qualified for the NJCAA National Championships in Buffalo, N.Y., on March 6 with previous top marks and used Thursday’s meet — since South Georgia doesn’t have a dive team — as a chance for a final tune-up.
Darton, which has every member of its program qualified for at least one event at next month’s nationals, had one school record broken Thursday. Sophomore star Anna Macht, one of the team’s nationally ranked swimmers, broke the old school record of 2:08.82 in the 200 backstroke with a time of 2:07.22 on Thursday.