On Saturday, February 10th the Delta Devils from Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) arrived at the Davey L. Whitney Complex to take on the Alcorn State Lady Braves. On a day where Alcorn honored its Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Program, many Army members were in attendance. The Delta Devils entered the game last in Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) play with a record of (1-22, 0-10). Alcorn State entered the matchup 6th in the overall SWAC standings with a record of (9-13, 5-6). The game was the first of a double header between the two schools.
The Lady Braves seemed inspired and focused as ever. Head Coach Courtney Pruitt was seen giving what appeared to be a very inspirational speech. The game started two minutes later than expected, nevertheless, the Delta Devils won the jump ball. The Braves opened the contest playing man to man defense and quickly gave up a three pointer. The ball movement was great on first possession but Alcorn missed their first shot attempt. Valley clearly wanted to start the game running in transition as the Braves rapidly got back on defense. Following a MVSU missed shot, Senior Forward Miracle Rushing scored the opening basket for Alcorn. Defensively Brianna Tolliver started the game with intense defense and ultimately helped Alcorn force a shot clock violation. The Delta Devils began to press and pressure the ball to force several Braves’ missed shots. Again, MVSU ran quickly in transition but Tolliver showed great instincts on defense, blocking her second shot of the early game. Following a traveling violation from Mississippi Valley State, Rushing continued her scoring by converting a layup. With 5:23 remaining in the 1st quarter the score was tied 5-5. Freshman Forward Danasia Fennie made an immediate impact off the bench as she grabbed a defensive rebound which led to the dynamic Guard Alexus Freeman’s first bucket of the night on a mid range shot. After the media timeout, MVSU executed a beautiful inbound play which lead to a made three. Alcorn then turned the ball over and the Delta Devils scored another basket in transition. A pair of substitutions helped reset Alcorn’s scoring attack and led to an easy bucket for Tia Sanders to begin her big day. With two minutes remaining in the 1st quarter the score was 14-9 with MVSU holding the lead. Rushing was providing just about the only bright spot for Alcorn as she grabbed a hustle rebound and converted one free throw after being fouled. In the first quarter the Braves struggled a bit to score the ball and the Delta Devils took advantage by scoring easy points in transition. Fortunately for the Braves they rebounded very well and only trailed 18-12 after the 1st quarter.
Out of the break, Tolliver drilled a mid-range jumper to shrink the Delta Devils lead. Yet MVSU continued their same tactic that worked in the 1st quarter as they pounded the ball inside for contact lay ups. Unlike in the 1st quarter, Mississippi Valley State began to rebound the basketball at an alarmingly high rate which led to more scoring opportunities and more forced fouls against the Braves. Rushing continued her high level of play early in the 2nd quarter as she made a difficult lay in for two points. At the seven minute mark of the 2nd quarter, the score was 22-16 with MVSU in control. After a great defensive series for Alcorn, Freeman raced up the court and sunk an open mid range jump shot. Suddenly the Braves seemed to be gaining momentum when the officials blew the whistle for a media timeout with the score 25-18. Jada Hargrove, the Georgia native, got in on the scoring action with a jump shot out of the media timeout. Alcorn started a run of 3 consecutive shots and 6 straight points. The defense for the Braves was playing the best it had played all night after forcing a pair of missed shots and a steal. With 4:51 remaining until the half, the score was 25-20. Rushing continued to rebound well as she led the Braves up the court on an ensuing Delta Devils’ missed shot. The Lady Braves slowed the tempo which eventually led to Fennie getting fouled. Both teams suddenly went cold offensively until MVSU Guard LaKendra Bassett scored their first points in over 4 minutes. After an Alcorn missed shot and a block shot from Makayla Bonner from Mississippi Valley State, the Delta Devils nailed a 3 pointer to push their lead to 10 points. Following the 3 pointer, Hargrove sank a 3 pointer of her own to get the Braves back on track. With 1:31 left in the 1st half the score was 30-23 with MVSU still on top. The last minute of the second quarter was played very sloppily by both sides and ultimately concluded with a 33-26 Alcorn State deficit.
To begin the third quarter, after several attempts from both teams, Freeman found Sanders for an easy transition layup. Following an Alcorn steal Sanders saw a cutting Rushing for another easy transition lay in. MVSU opened the half with 4 missed shots and 3 turnovers. The Delta Devils were struggling as a unit until Kenya Arnold from Mississippi Valley State converted a lay in for two points. With three minutes off the clock in the 3rd quarter the score was 35-30. After a pair of made free throws from the Delta Devils, Freeman raced up the court and scored a basket. The Alcorn State bench was energetic as they cheered with high energy watching their teammates play hard. The Braves were suddenly playing a high tempo brand of basketball. After a steal from Junior Kristian Dewitt, Sanders nailed a corner three while being fouled. After missing her 4 point play free throw, the Braves got a rebound and found Sanders behind the arc again for another 3. The Braves had their first lead of the game at 38-37 and a ton of momentum as the officials called for a media timeout. After forcing a turnover Sanders, with the hot hand, sank a nice turnaround jumper for another Braves’ basket. In the 3rd quarter Sanders played a vital role in Alcorn State advancing to a lead in the game. As the 3rd quarter ended, Alcorn led 47-42.
To start the final quarter of play MVSU came out of their huddle agressive trying to score the basketball but were blocked by both Tolliver and Rushing before sinking a corner three. But similarly to the 3rd quarter Sanders nailed yet another three. With eight minutes remaining in regulation the score was close at 50-45 with Alcorn State leading. Sanders let her great offensive attack mirror her defense as she made a big block and ultimately led to Rushing sinking a free throw. After several missed shots between both teams, the Delat Devils ran a two on one fast break in transition. With Rushing being the only Brave defender back on defense, it was up to her to prevent a basket. As the MVSU player ran the break, Rushing performed an incredible block that sent the crowd into a state of chaos. Both teams continued to play hard. With four minutes left in the game Freeman drained a layup for a beautiful bucket. However, the Delta Devils quickly replied with two points of their own. Rushing then got an offensive rebound and scored another basket for Alcorn State. The Braves lead 58-50 as the back and forth scoring continued. Suddenly a pair of Alcorn turnovers lead to back to back scores for the visiting Delta Devils. With 2:05 remaining in regulation the score was 58-54 with Alcorn State holding a slim margin. The next minute went by with a variety of unsuccessful offensive possessions. With 30 seconds remaining in the game Mississippi Valley State had the ball trailing by just three points. After scoring on an inbound pass Alcorn State went up by one point. After Freeman was fouled she went to the line for two foul shots making one and missing one. The Delta Devils then took their final timeout with 16.9 seconds remaining and the score was 61-59 with the Braves leading. On the inbound pass, MVSU converted a lay in with the foul. The lay in tied the game at 61. The free throw by Desiray Mosley of Mississippi Valley State was no good and Alcorn State snagged the rebound and immediately called a timeout. The game was tied as the Braves had the ball with only seven seconds remaining in the game. On the inbound pass, the Braves threw the basketball out of bounds which forfeited their possession. Now MVSU had the ball with five seconds remaining in the game and the score still tied. The Delta Devils successfully completed their inbound pass and drew a foul with 2.3 seconds left in regulation. Sydney Floyd from MVSU went to the free throw line and missed the first of her two shots. The entire arena was shaking as she attempted her second foul shot. She eventually made the second shot and Alcorn State lost the game by the final score of 62-61.
After the loss, the Lady Braves fell to (9-14, 5-7) while MVSU improved to (2-22, 2-10). Despite the loss, Sanders turned in a nice performance finishing the game with 19 points in 36 minutes. In addition, Rushing added 14 points and two blocks. The Lady Braves only have 3 remaining home games in this year’s basketball season so be sure to come out and support them.