MOBILE, Ala. – In the first meeting between rivals this season, Alabama A&M was held to just 20 points in the second half in a 69-61 loss to Alabama State in Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) men’s action as part of the Bridge Builders Classic on Martin Luther King Day.
Alabama A&M (6-12, 2-3 SWAC) allowed a three on their opening defensive possession despite blocks on the trip from Olisa Blaise Akonobi (Abuja, Nigeria) and Dailin Smith (Colorado Springs, Co.), but responded on the next trip down on a score from the combination of Messiah Thompson (Atlanta, Ga.) to Akonobi. Thompson followed later with a three to pull within a point, at 6-5, with just under 18 minutes to play in the first.
The Bulldogs responded on the next trip down on a score from the combination of Messiah Thompson (Atlanta, Ga.) to Akonobi, followed later by a three from Thompson to pull within a point at 6-5 with just under 18 minutes to play in the first.
The Hornets gained a 14-8 advantage after the first media timeout on after a pair of free throws, however Garrett Hicks (Madison, Ala.) scored in the lane to spark the Bulldogs, who gained their first lead of the game at 15-14 heading into the under-12 media break.
After trading scores out of the break, A&M went on a 12-6 run over the next several minutes, gaining their first significant lead at 33-26 following a layup from Jayland Randall (Detroit, Mich.). From there they fought off an attempt from Alabama State who reduced the lead to two, however the Bulldogs led 41-36 at the half.
Despite extended the lead to seven with a score inside from EJ Williams (Cincinnati, Ohio), Alabama A&M fell victim to another run to, finding themselves trailing 44-43 three minutes into the half before regaining a 48-46 lead with just under 16 minutes remaining.
The Hornets responded again with a crucial 10-0 run over the next four minutes until the under-12 timeout and maintained the same lead at 60-52 with 7:57 to go. Both teams struggled to score over the next few minutes, as Alabama State held on to double figure leads at the 3:18 mark and again with 2:48 to play. From there, Alabama A&M could not cut into the lead, falling 69-61.
The Bulldogs shot 34.4 (22-for-64) percent from the floor, 22.7 (5-for-22) from three-point range, and 63.2 (12-for-19) percent from the charity stripe in the ball game. Additionally, they outscored the Hornets in bench points (21-12), played even in second chance opportunities (16-16), but trailed in points off turnovers (12-10) and points in the paint (28-26) in the loss.
Hicks led the way for A&M with 15 points and six rebounds, his 16th double figure outing of the season, while Akonobi added ten points, six blocks, and five rebounds on the day. Meanwhile, three Hornets finished in double figures, led by Isaiah Range with 18 points, followed by Antonio Madlock and Duane Posey with 12 and ten points respectively.
The program will return to Huntsville for their next two games, starting with Texas Southern on Saturday, January 21. Tip-off is set for the second half of the doubleheader at 5 p.m. inside the Event Center.
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