LORMAN, Miss. – The Alcorn State University men’s basketball program withstood a 14-2 run in the final four minutes to hang on and defeat Mississippi Valley State 63-60 in the first round of the SWAC Championships on Tuesday at the Davey L. Whitney Complex.
Alcorn (17-13, 13-5 SWAC), the No. 2 seed, was up 59-46 at the four-minute mark when the seventh-seeded Delta Devils (7-25, 7-11 SWAC) came storming back. They chipped away with a 5-0 run to make it 59-51, and after a pair of free throws by senior Denzel Dulin, MVSU used a 9-0 spurt to cut it to a one-point game with 45 seconds left.
After a charging call was made on the Braves, the Delta Devils had a chance to take the lead, but a steal by Dulin with 6.5 seconds proved to be the biggest play of the night. Dulin then drained a pair of free throws, and a contested last-second three-pointer by MVSU was off the mark.
Junior A.J. Mosby led the Braves with 17 points and six rebounds. Junior Reginal Johnson, an All-Conference Second-Team honoree, neared a double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds, and Dulin was also a heavy contributor with 13 points and eight rebounds. Dulin was also seven-for-eight from the free throw line.
MVSU was guided by All-Conference First-Team selection Marcus Romain’s game-high 29 points. Rashaan Surles aided the attack with 17 points.
It was a defensive battle early as both teams were getting stops; MVSU held a slight 4-3 edge after six minutes. An and-one by Dulin, followed by a long-range shot by Mosby gave Alcorn a 9-6 advantage with 12:18 remaining.
The Braves led 12-10 when the Delta Devils answered with a 6-0 run to go up 16-12 at the 9:07 mark.
Still down 18-14, a lay-up by senior DeAndre Davis and a three-pointer by Mosby in the left corner put the Braves back on top 19-18 with 7:28 to go.
The Braves played the final five minutes of the half strong, ending it on a 13-4 spurt. It started with a 9-0 run capped by a finger-role lay-up by Dulin to go up 32-25 with 2:33 left. A mid-range jumper by Johnson on Alcorn’s final possession pushed the lead to 38-29 at the intermission.
The first four minutes of the second half were chippy as the Delta Devils were already in the bonus at the 16:03 mark. A three-pointer by Romain got MVSU’s deficit down to 45-39 with 13:04 remaining.
The Braves then found the hot hand in Johnson who recorded a three-pointer, tip-in and fast-break lay-up to go in front 53-41 at the 10:27 mark. A basket in the post by Davis increased the edge to 55-41 with 9:00 left.
MVSU hung around late and used a big run to get back in it 61-55 with 1:51 left. Surles then hit a three-pointer to slice the lead down to just 61-58 with 1:24 to go. The Delta Devils made it a one-point game, 61-60 after a drive by Romain with 45 seconds remaining.
After a charging foul was called on Alcorn, the Delta Devils had it down by one with 22.3 seconds left. Romain tried to drive to the bucket, but the ball was stolen by Dulin in the paint and he was fouled with 6.5 ticks remaining. Dulin made both free throws, and MVSU’s three-pointer by Surles in the end was wide.
The Braves will move on to Houston for an 8:30 p.m. tip at the Toyota Center in the semifinals of the SWAC Championships. They will play either No. 3 Southern or No. 6 Jackson State. Alcorn swept the season series against both teams this year.
– The Braves ended the season 11-2 at home where they outscored the position 979-807.
– SWAC Coach of the Year Montez Robinson saw his team win its 17th game overall, the most since 2001-02. He coached the Braves to back-to-back winning seasons in conference for the first time since 2001-02, 02-03.
– Alcorn ended the conference season leading the league in both field goal percentage defense (.402) and three-point field goal percentage defense (.287. They held MVSU to a .356 (21-59) mark from the field and .222 (4-18) clip from beyond-the-arc.
– Johnson has reached double-figures in scoring in 28 of the last 29 games. He netted his 47th career double-figure scoring game. He shot 7-for-10 from the field.
– Mosby notched his 16th double-figure scoring game of the year. He went 7-for-14 from the field and made a trio of three-pointers. He remained as the only Brave to start in every game this season.
– Dulin etched his 13th double-digit scoring game of the season. His eight rebounds marked a career-high. Dulin reached double-figures for the second game in a row after scoring 12 in the regular season finale at Prairie View A&M.
– Senior Marquis Vance, who was named to the All-Conference First-Team, registered eight points and eight rebounds. He’s now up to 1,283 career points, 785 rebounds and 208 assists in four years. He played in his 122nd game and made his 105th start.
– The Braves outrebounded the Delta Devils 41-36 and outscored them 32-26 in the paint and 17-11 off the bench.
– The game featured four ties and eight lead changes.
– MVSU entered the contest on a three-game winning-streak.