Lady Rams advance to conference quarterfinals

Robert Skinner

Robert Skinner

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Not this time.

After getting swept by Claflin in the regular season, the Albany State women’s basketball team took care of business in Wednesday’s SIAC quarterfinals with a 68-55 victory over the Lady Panthers.

The No. 1 seed Lady Rams will play in Friday’s semifinals after pulling away in the final minutes from a Claflin team that hung around for much of the game.

The difference maker on Wednesday was Albany State sophomore and former Crisp County star Keidra Green, who scored a game-high 20 points to lead the Lady Rams (20-5) to their first 20-win season since 1998.

It was a victory that lifted the Lady Rams one game closer to their first conference title in 16 years.

“There’s always a lot of tension and stress getting that first win in the tournament. It’s not like volleyball and softball,” said ASU coach Robert Skinner, referencing the double-elimination SIAC softball and volleyball tournaments. “This one is one-and-done.”

The game began as a defensive battle where both teams found points hard to come by. After nearly four scoreless minutes, Claflin drew first blood with a Uniqua Mitchell jumper. But then Lady Ram guards Kourtney Alexander and Green hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give ASU a lead it would never relinquish.

Albany State pulled away by as many as 11 points in the first half before Claflin chipped away at the lead and cut it to 29-25 by halftime.

However, the Lady Rams opened the second half on a 9-0 lead and never led by fewer than seven points after the nine-point burst.

Tip Holston added 12 points and seven rebounds for the Lady Rams, who shot just 40 percent from the floor and were outrebounded 42-38 but capitalized on 27 Claflin turnovers. ASU point guard Mecca Frost chipped in nine points, and Alexander and Jillian Anderson both scored seven points.

Claflin was led by Shakiema Ravenell’s 17 points.

The Lady Rams will play either Kentucky State or Clark Atlanta in Friday’s semifinal, which is scheduled to start at 2 p.m.

ASU MEN WIN OPENER, TOO: The second-seeded Rams escaped with a 55-54 win over No. 7 Morehouse late Tuesday in the opening round of the men’s SIAC basketball tournament.

With the victory, ASU improved to 15-12 overall and advanced to today’s quarterfinal round where the Rams will face Kentucky State at 8:45 p.m.

On Tuesday, Albany State controlled much of the first half and held the Tigers to one point in the final three minutes to take a 32-25 lead into the break.

In the second half, Morehouse started to take advantage of its size and grabbed multiple rebounds. The Tigers took their first lead, 41-39, at the 12:59 mark and stretched their advantage to as many as six points with 8:46 left in the game. However, the Rams mounted a late comeback and eventually retook the lead with a Larry Bullock jumper with 1:08 left.

Senior Eric Martin came off the bench to lead ASU with nine points and nine rebounds, while Joe Williams and Bullock each added eight points. Justin Udi and former Worth County star Jamorris Gaines both finished with seven points.