LOCAL COLLEGE ROUNDUP: Lady Rams win conference opener vs. Kentucky State

Albany State women's basketball coach Robert Skinner

Albany State women's basketball coach Robert Skinner

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Robert Skinner didn’t have to say a word.

His team just knew.

The Lady Rams knew exactly how big Thursday’s conference-opening, 78-73 victory at Kentucky State was, and they knew exactly how their coach would feel about it.

“The first thing they said to me after the game was, ‘Coach, we bet you are really proud of us with that win,’ ” Skinner said. “And it did make me proud. We played with a lot of discipline and poise on the road and made shots when we needed to.”

Former Bainbridge star April Thomas led Albany State with 21 points, and Kedeemya Cooper added 18 points — but it was sophomore Mecca Frost who went 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the final minute to help the Lady Rams turn a one-point lead into a five-point victory.

“It was definitely a big win for us,” Skinner said. “It was one that we needed and had to have to keep the momentum going.”

The win came less than a week after the Lady Rams (3-5) beat in-state rival Valdosta State, and Skinner said his team was able to beat both VSU and KSU with strong shooting.

“Offensively we just kept scoring,” Skinner said about Thursday’s win. “We are playing really confident right now. I want to believe that we are getting a clear understanding of what we need to do on the floor.”

Kentucky State (3-5, 0-1) had won three of four coming into Thursday’s game and will likely be near the top of the conference standings when the postseason rolls around.

“They are going to be somebody to reckon with,” Skinner said.

On Thursday, however, it was all about the Lady Rams, who return home Monday to play Tuskegee at 5:30 p.m.

DARTON WOMEN 93, WEST GEORGIA TECH 54: With star post player Chanteniece Fann sidelined with a possible serious knee injury, the Lady Cavs got a career game from sophomore Crystal Reed in Thursday’s 49-point win.

Reed, a 6-foot-6 center, came off the bench to score a career-high 21 points and grab 11 rebounds, while Michelle Mitchell (14 points, 8 rebounds), Tamarah Fisher (13 points) and Iesha Bonner (12 points) also scored in double figures.

The Lady Cavs (15-2), who have now won five games in a row and 13 of their last 14, shot 60 percent from the field and outrebounded West Georgia Tech, 57-27.

The hard-nosed Darton defense also forced 17 turnovers despite playing much of the game in a half-court zone.

Darton plays again Monday at East Georgia before traveling to Georgia Highlands on Jan. 12 for a showdown between the top two Region XVII teams.

Georgia Highlands is undefeated in its first season in the region, while Darton has a single region loss.

KENTUCKY STATE MEN 70, ALBANY STATE 54: The Rams fell behind by 15 at halftime and then rallied to close to within four points late in the second half before falling in the conference opener Thursday night on the road.

Jaren Harris led the Rams with 16 points and James Lodman chipped in with 12 points in the loss, which dropped ASU to 1-7 for the season and 0-1 in the conference.

“We cut the lead down to four points,’’ ASU coach Chris Cameron said. “But in the last two minutes we missed some shots and had to foul. We didn’t play well consistently. There were some things we know we have to do. We just didn’t take care of business.”

The ASU men are at home Monday against Tuskegee in another conference game.

ST. PETERSBURG MEN 57, ALBANY TECH 53: The Titans gave up a four-point lead with three minutes left in Thursday’s game and fell to 4-13 overall.

Albany Tech, which also lost to host Daytona State on Wednesday, went 0-2 in the Daytona New Years Classic.

Nouhoum Boucoum and Deandre Harper led the Titans on Thursday with eight points apiece, and Boucoum scored a team-high 13 points Wednesday.

“We just aren’t making the plays down the stretch,” Albany Tech coach Sylvester Patterson said. “This is six games that we have lost by five or less points. We just aren’t making the plays when we have to.”

The Titans, who play eight of their final 13 games at home, are in action again Wednesday at home against Georgia Highlands.