Work in Sports
Alcorn State wins SWAC final
Posted: Saturday March 11, 2000 05:29 PM
BILOXI, Miss. (AP) -- Alcorn State coach Shirley Walker finally won the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament that she worked worked so hard to attain for the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
The Lady Braves earned their first trip to the NCAAs Saturday with a surprisingly easy 83-58 victory over Grambling State in the SWAC tournament championship game.
Walker, in her 21st season as coach of Alcorn State, has won three previous SWAC tournament crowns, but that was before the league earned an automatic bid in the 1995-96 season.
"I was part of that, pushing my conference," Walker said. "I've been to the NCAA to work at the regionals with other teams. It's a good feeling to go with Alcorn State. I'm flying high right now."
Grambling State had been the only school to earn the SWAC's automatic bid, winning the conference tournament four straight seasons.
The Lady Tigers were seeded No. 1 and favored to go back to the Big Dance, but some poor shooting and solid defense did in the highest scoring team in the country.
"Today was not our day," Grambling State coach Rusty Ponton said. "We got here in plenty of time for the game. We just didn't show up for the game."
Alcorn State held Grambling State 31 points below its average and to its lowest point total of the season.
Ponton credited Walker with being a major part of developing SWAC basketball over the years.
"If you've got to lose, you can't lose to a better person," said Ponton, in his third season with Grambling State. "She helped put the SWAC and women's basketball on the map."
Daisha Reed led the second-seeded Lady Braves (22-8) with 17 points. Cherea Wood had 14 points and 18 rebounds for Alcorn State and was named tournament MVP.
Grambling State (25-5) averaged over 89 points per game throughout the regular season and had scored 195 points in its first two SWAC tournament games.
Gwen Taylor led Grambling State with 23 points, but the Lady Tigers shot just 26 percent for the game.
SWAC player of the year Nakesha Jewell scored just 12 points and was 6-of-19 from the field. Shrieka Evans, the team's leading scorer, had just six points, 12 below her average.
Alcorn State used a 23-3 run to build a 29-9 lead with 5:15 left in the first half.
The Lady Braves' 16-point halftime advantage reached 27 when Reed hit a 3-pointer with 6:50 left to make the score 68-41.