Photo: Gadsden State’s Deyana Dodd splits the Southern Union defense during the Lady Cardinals’ 72-61 win in womens basketball last Monday (Jan. 24) at Beck Field House. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
By the end of the third quarter in Gadsden State’s game against Southern Union last Monday (Jan. 24), it was the visitors from Wadley who looked and acted winded.
GSCC women’s head basketball coach Brian Phillips was not surprised.
“We kept being aggressive, and [Southern Union] pretty much quit in the second half,” he said following the Lady Cardinals’ 72-61 win at Beck Field House. “For the first three or four weeks [of pre-season practice], we didn’t even touch the basketball. I condition our girls to press a lot, and we still don’t play as fast as I’d like to. One thing we’re going to look at for next year is picking up the tempo a little bit more. I like playing face-paced, and it seems to work.”
Coming out of halftime with a slim 31-30 lead, the Lady Cardinals (9-10) outscored Southern Union 20 to 11 in the third quarter to take a double-digit lead into the final 10 minutes.
The Lady Bison managed to close with 58-49 with a little of six minutes remaining before the hosts went ahead by as many as 15 points down the stretch.
Freshman guard Vanessa Carter slashed the Lady Bison defense all night, finishing with a game-high 22 points, mostly off drives in the lane.
“Vanessa had a shaky first half, but once she settled in, we ran that high post through her and they couldn’t stop her off the dribble,” said Phillips. “The good thing about Vanessa is that a guard is too small to defend her, and a post [player] isn’t quick enough to keep up with her. She helped us out a lot tonight.”
Deyana Dodd added 17 points for Gadsden State, while Dalayiah Crawford chipped in 13.
Dodd’s jump shot at the first-quarter buzzer gave the Lady Cardinals a 15-13 advantage. Carter’s steal and traditional three-point play with five minutes left in the second period put the hosts up by seven points, but Southern Union closed out the first half on an 8-2 run that pulled the visitors within 31-30 at intermission.
“We started out pressing full, and at halftime I decided to go three-quarters press and see what happened,” said Phillips. “[Southern Union] started turning the ball over and their guards couldn’t get it to [center Elexus Bell]. We kept her to five points, so we did a good job of keeping the ball out of her hands.”
Bell scored all five of her points in the first quarter.
Jalexus Russell’s three-point basket started off the second half, while her layup at the 6:20 mark of the third quarter stretched the GSCC lead to 44-34 and led to a Southern Union time-out. The Lady Cardinals entered the final frame leading 51-41, and Gadsden State’s superior conditioning ensured that a Lady Bison rally was not going to happen.
Tierra Williams paced Southern Union with 14 points, followed by Myrical Heard and Tamira Anderson with 10 each.
The win improved Gadsden State’s ACCC record to 3-2 entering the second round of conference play.
“Right now, we’re sitting as the third seed in the conference, so if we can hold that spot, we’ll get a bye for the [conference] tournament,” said Phillips. “We’re in the catbird’s seat right now, so to speak.”