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Rams hold off second-half rally from LeMoyne-Owen for SIAC win

Jamorris Gaines leads Rams with 23 points

Albany State's Douglas Storey scoops in a layup Monday night against LeMoyne-Owen. Storey scored six first-half points to help the Rams pull ahead early in the SIAC matchup. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)

Albany State's Douglas Storey scoops in a layup Monday night against LeMoyne-Owen. Storey scored six first-half points to help the Rams pull ahead early in the SIAC matchup. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)

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Albany State’s Curtis Fluker is blocked by LeMoyne-Owen’s Jerry Hampton late in Monday’s second half. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)

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Albany State guard Rachard Lofton shoots in front of LeMoyne-Owen defender Marcel Hawkins on Monday in HPER Gymnasium. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)

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Albany State senior forward Eric Martin is fouled as he goes up for a dunk with LeMoyne-Owen’s Jerry Hampton defending. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)

ALBANY — Not this time.

Dangerously close to blowing their second double-digit lead in as many games, the Albany State men’s basketball team instead pulled away late from LeMoyne-Owen on Monday to move back above .500 in the SIAC.

After seeing their 19-point lead dwindled down to nine midway through the second half, the Rams (6-7, 3-2 SIAC) regained control of Monday’s game for an 80-68 victory.

On Saturday, the Rams led Miles for the entire game before the Golden Bears charged back to forced OT in ASU’s triple-overtime victory. On Monday, after their lead was cut to single digits, the Rams buckled down on defense and held the Magicians scoreless during a key five-minute stretch and expanded their lead back to 20.

“They were making a little run, and we came up with a few stops,” ASU coach Chris Cameron said. “We got into our 1-2-2 zone and forced them into jumpers.”

The jump shot wasn’t exactly working for LeMoyne-Owen (4-8, 2-3), which shot 35 percent from the floor and 19 percent from 3-point range. The Rams, on the other hand, hit 10-of-19 3-pointers and shot nearly 50 percent from the floor in their biggest win against a Division II opponent this season.

“We hadn’t been shooting well from the 3, and that has kind of hindered us some scoring-wise,” Cameron said. “The 3-point shot is something that we can shoot. We have four or five guys who we are comfortable allowing to shoot those.”

Four Rams hit multiple 3-pointers on Monday, including former Worth County star Jamorris Gaines, who was 3-for-3 from long range and scored a game-high 23 points.Gaines hit two 3-pointers in the first two minutes of the game to give the Rams an early 9-4 lead, and it was quickly up to double digits with treys from Derry Thorpe and Rachard Lofton.

Once ASU grabbed a double-digit lead with 14:50 left in the first half, the Rams never led by fewer than nine points.

Joe Williams also shot lights out, hitting 10-of-14 field goals and grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds and four blocks. Also scoring in double figures for ASU were Lofton and Douglas Storey, who each finished with 12 points.

After dropping two straight SIAC games to Tuskegee and Stillman, the Rams have now won two straight and are creeping back up the East Division standings. ASU wraps up its cross-division schedule Thursday with a game against Lane College before hosting Benedict — the East’s No. 1 team — on Saturday.