UA-Pine Bluff Lady Lions overcome slow start, beat Alcorn State

Demetria Shephard of UAPB pushes the ball in transition against Nakia Cheatham in the third quarter Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, at H.O. Clemmons Arena. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)
Demetria Shephard of UAPB pushes the ball in transition against Nakia Cheatham in the third quarter Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, at H.O. Clemmons Arena. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)

Before Saturday's game, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff women's basketball coach Dawn Thornton emphasized the Lady Lions couldn't overlook Alcorn State.

The Lady Braves showed why early on, but UAPB overcame a slow start to win its fifth straight game, 80-57.

Thornton said she isn't sure what caused the slow start, though the noon start time might have been a factor.

"This is the first time that we've played at 12:00, maybe that's what it was," Thornton said. "We weren't in the flow of our normal routine, but I thought that we did a really good job of, in the second quarter, making an adjustment."

UAPB (13-10, 8-2 SWAC) called a timeout with 6:59 remaining in the first quarter trailing 7-1. The Lady Lions had only attempted one field goal and had three turnovers. Azaria Robinson came out of the timeout and hit UAPB's first shot, but Alcorn State continued scoring and led by as much as 14-7.

The Lady Lions finally got going afterward. UAPB finished the first quarter on a 10-2 run, with Zaay Green giving UAPB its first lead with 47 seconds remaining.

Alcorn State (4-17, 2-8) never led again. UAPB hit four 3-pointers in the second quarter, including three from Demetria Shephard. Robinson beat the halftime buzzer with a layup to give the Lady Lions a 43-27 lead at the break.

Thornton said that when she called the early timeout, she reminded her players about what they had worked on in practice.

"I thought that we were giving them too many opportunities to cut backdoor," Thornton said. "We worked on that. That's who they are, so we wanted to make that adjustment defensively."

UAPB's recovery started with defense. The Lady Lions forced nine turnovers in the first quarter, a trend which continued throughout the game. UAPB finished with 28 points off 25 Alcorn State turnovers.

All nine Lady Lions who played scored, and all but one collected three or more rebounds. Green led with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Maya Peat scored 12 points with eight boards, while Coriah Beck scored 11.

Thornton said everyone on the team can score, but getting everyone to buy in defensively is the key to UAPB winning.

"Defense is our best offense," Thornton said. "Live ball turnovers converts to layups, converts to transition offense. That's what we want to do. We want to be able to get 20 points in that, so that alone is enough to get us over the hump because of the fact, I guess we shoot 40 percent from the field or something, 41 tonight. That's a great percentage."

UAPB center Maori Davenport didn't play after getting injured during the Lady Lions' previous game at Prairie View A&M. Thornton said she will be a gameday decision Monday against Jackson State. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m.

In her absence, Peat and Robinson stepped up in the post, combining for 19 points and 12 rebounds.

Peat said she and Robinson didn't feel any pressure with Davenport out because the three of them are "really, really tight as a unit."

"So, we know if one of us isn't there, another one got our backs," Peat said.

  photo  Jelissa Reese of UAPB goes to the basket as Kiarra Henderson of Alcorn State defends in the third quarter Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, at H.O. Clemmons Arena. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)
 
 

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