Photo; Gadsden State’s Te’ Johnson (right) moves against Wallace-Hanceville’s Desiree Tyner during the Lady Cardinals’ 79-73 loss in women’s basketball on Jan. 9. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy
Gadsden State’s 79-73 loss to Wallace State-Hanceville gave credence to the idea that the outcome of a game can be decided long before the final buzzer.
In their Alabama Community College Conference opener on Tuesday (Jan. 9) at Beck Field House, the Lady Cardinals (7-7, 0-1) failed to make an eight-point lead with eight minutes to go stand up, and afterwards head coach Marty Dixon pointed to the reason why.
“We just didn’t make our free throws, especially early on (6-for-10 in the first half). We shot about 50 percent (17-for-34) and you can’t win many games doing that. We took some bad shots but we also made some good shots. They went 2-3 on us (on defense) and we didn’t shoot the ball well and missed a couple [of shots] inside and didn’t make a couple of jump shots down the stretch.
“We lhad a couple of turnovers in a row and a couple of missed shots, and on the defensive end we didn’t close out all the way on a 3 [point basket], and that was big.”
Wallace-Hanceville (12-5, 1-0) had better success at the charity stripe, shooting 65 percent (20-for-31).
A pair of baskets by sophomore forward Te’ Johnson in the early stages of the fourth quarter provided the hosts with a 63-56 lead, but the Lady Lions began to turn up the heat on defense and eventually drew even at 65-65 with 5:22 remaining. The game went back and fourth down the stretch, but Gadsden State never regained the lead.
The Lady Cardinals’ final points came on Tyesha Haynes’ traditional three-point play with48 seconds left. That drew Gadsden State within a point at 74-73, but that was as close as the host would get. Down by three, the Lady Cardinals had possession with 16.4 on the clock but failed to score.
Gadsden State was then forced to foul, and with 8.3 on the clock Sydney Powell sank both free throws to make it a two-possession game and effectively put the game out of reach.
Johnson paced Gadsden State with 13 points along with four rebounds. Dia-mond Jolly contributed 11 points and four boards, while Christin Dickinson finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
Haynes chipped in nine points and six rebounds, while Kelsey Patterson added eight points and three assists. Tionna Moore had six points, Kaylan Hines, Keke Jones and Tori Sanders each scored five.
The Lady Cardinals led by as many as eight points in the first quarter before emerging with a 19-16 advantage after 10 minutes. Jones and Moore each dropped six points in the second period, but the visitors knocked down five 3-point baskets to take a 38-32 lead at halftime.
But Jolly and Johnson found room to operate in the post in the third frame, scoring eight and seven points, respectively, to help the hosts take a 59-53 lead into the final 10 minutes.
“I was happy with our effort tonight, and every one of our girls played hard,” said Dixon. “But we’ve got make our free throws and we’ve got to finish out games.”
Powell finished with 19 points, followed by Joy Sadler, Gabby Hill and Jada Golden with 11 each.
Gadsden State continues ACCC action this Saturday (Jan. 13) with a visit to Snead State.