Albany State sophomore and former Bainbridge star April Thomas scored 19 points in the Lady Rams' loss on Wednesday. (Dimitreus Hopkins/Special to The Herald)
ATLANTA — Albany State women’s basketball coach Robert Skinner could see the hurt in his players’ eyes after Wednesday’s season-ending, 64-55 loss to Benedict in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.
After leading No. 1 seed Benedict for much of the night, the No. 5 seed Lady Rams couldn’t close out the upset, finishing the season 9-16 overall and losers of six of their last seven games.
“They are hurt, but give it a few hours and the pain will go away,” Skinner said. “Hopefully they realize you have to get back in and work hard. There’s no reason to talk about what-ifs. We had our opportunities (Wednesday).”
The opportunities were there for the taking for the Lady Rams, who led with five minutes left in the game before getting outscored 13-4 down the stretch.
Former Bainbridge star April Thomas led the Lady Rams with 19 points but turned the ball over a game-high nine times, and Mitchell County native Kedeemya Cooper, the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, was ineffective, scoring just two points on 1-of-5 from the field.
“I really believe that if we would have scored baskets down the stretch and gotten Kedeemya involved on offense that we would have been able to play with them,” Skinner said.
For much of the game, the Lady Rams held their own against a Benedict team that they were swept by in the regular season. They led 31-27 at halftime and swapped the lead back and forth in the second half before Benedict’s Monique Weathers drained a 3-pointer with five minutes left to give the Lady Tigers a lead they never gave up.
Albany State’s conference title drought is now at 16 years, but the Lady Rams lose just one senior — Danielle Colson — from the program.
BENEDICT MEN 72, ALBANY STATE 52: The No. 5 seed Golden Rams trailed by just four points at halftime but got outscored, 37-21, in the second half to see their season end in the second round of the conference tournament for the second year in a row.
The No. 1 seed Tigers will now play in Friday’s semifinals against either Morehouse or Kentucky State.
No final stats were available for ASU (9-18), which hasn’t had a winning season in the past seven years under head coach Chris Cameron.
The Rams lose three seniors from this year’s team — former Dougherty star Andrew Covin, Justin Wilcox and Jaren Harris.
Darton baseball beats No. 11 Fla. Gulf Coast for second time
ALBANY — For the second time this season, the Darton baseball team knocked off nationally-ranked Gulf Coast on Wednesday, extending its winning streak to three games with the 4-0 victory.
Darton ace A.J. Sunstrom held No. 11 Gulf Coast to four hits in eight innings and struck out four to improve to 4-1 on the mound.
The Cavs, who opened the season with a 3-0 win against Gulf Coast, took a 2-0 lead in the second inning when Casey James and Casey Moody drew bases-loaded walks and then added insurance runs in the third and seventh innings on RBI from Cody Adams and Kyle Conkle, who finished 3-for-3 at the plate.
Darton (9-4) plays at 2:30 p.m. today at Wallace-Dothan (Ala.) before returning to Albany for a three-game homestand this weekend against Lake Michigan.
D-II GSW hangs with D-I UCF in road loss
ORLANDO, Fla. — Georgia Southwestern took a trip out of conference — and its NCAA division — late Tuesday night when it traveled to Central Florida to face Division I UCF.
The Hurricanes lost, 65-50, but they kept it close for much of the game against the Golden Knights, who are 19-9 and one of the top teams in Conference USC. GSW's record stands at 12-13, and it was the Hurricanes’ third straight loss after winning five straight.
UCF led just 23-16 at halftime, but the Golden Knights utilized a 17-0 run early in the second half to put the game out of reach.
Daryl Davis led GSW with 16 points and eight rebounds. Matt Shaw added 13 points, and Alan Arnett chipped in 10.
Isaiah Sykes, the Knights' leading scorer coming into the game, finished with 11. But Sykes showed why he is Conference USA's leading defender as he picked up nine steals against the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes wrap up the regular season Saturday when they host North Georgia at 7:30 p.m. GSW is currently 8-10 in conference play and seeded No. 5. And while only the Top 4 teams from each division get into the season-ending conference tournament that starts next week, current No. 2 seed Young Harris is not eligible for the postseason because it’s the school’s first season, so GSW automatically moves up and is guaranteed the No. 4 seed. The Hurricanes can move up to the No. 3 seed if they win Saturday and Clayton State — the current No. 4 seed — loses its regular-season finale.
GSW mascot invited to NCAA Final Four
AMERICUS — Not long after the Georgia Southwestern men’s basketball team starts on its quest for the NCAA Division II Tournament, the Hurricanes’ mascot “Surge” will be getting ready for the real Big Dance: The NCAA Division I Tournament.
“Surge” has been invited to Division I Final Four Friday in Atlanta on April 5 at the Georgia Dome.
“Surge,” which was adopted as the school’s new mascot three years ago, will be performing in the nationally televised Reese’s College All-Star Game.
Darton State sweeps Andrew College
ALBANY — The Darton softball team crushed Andrew College on Wednesday in a doubleheader sweep, 13-1, in five innings in Game 1 and 6-0 in Game 2.
Jenny Willis earned the win in the opener, going all five innings, striking out two and allowing just three hits.
The big bat Wednesday belonged to freshman Melissa Dearth of Loganville, who now has six home runs on the year after blasting Nos. 4, 5 and 6 in the wins. She finished 2-for-4 in Game 1 with three RBI, then hit two dingers in Game 2, finished 3-for-4 with three more RBI.
Kelsey Swinson went 3-for-4 in the opener with three doubles, and Chelsea Showers provided the rest of the offense, going 2-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI.
Savannah Carlisle was the winning pitcher in Game 2, throwing a complete game while striking out nine and allowing just three hits. Bre Wells also had a home run and three RBI in that game. Darton improved to 16-5 overall and will next host East Georgia in a doubleheader today.