LORMAN, Miss. - Backed by a plus-19 advantage in bench points and plus-18 edge in points off turnovers, the Alcorn State University women’s basketball team controlled play over the first three quarters on their way to taking the 68-53 win over Mississippi Valley State in Southwestern Athletic Conference play Saturday night inside Davey L. Whitney Complex.
It’s the first time since 2011-12 that Alcorn State is off to a 3-1 or better start to the conference season having started that year 3-0 in SWAC play. All 11 players that saw the court scored at least two points for Alcorn (3-5, 3-1 SWAC) with Kirdis Clark leading the way with 16 points on 6-10 shooting. Cayla Obillo and Kailyn Watkins added eight points apiece, while Aja Wheeler, Nia McCalphia and Aysha Kirkland all added six points apiece. The Lady Braves forced 23 turnovers which led to a 22-4 advantage on points off turnovers. The bench also played a big role holding a 31-12 scoring edge.
“Since I have been at Alcorn, we have never been 3-1, so for this team to be able to do it feels greats,” Clark said on the strong start to the conference part of the schedule.
Clark opened the scoring 54 seconds in with a jumper. After the teams battled over the next six minutes and with the game tied at 12, Alcorn used an 8-0 run the remainder of the first quarter to hold a 20-12 lead. During the run, McCalphia and Kirkland scored all eight points during the stretch with each contributing four points apiece.
Mississippi Valley State (2-6, 0-4 SWAC) pulled to within five a few minutes into the second quarter just to watch the Lady Braves catch fire again. Obillo connected on a three-pointer to help Alcorn finish the half on a 12-4 run with Wheeler and Clark combining for the final nine points of the half to give the Lady Braves a 36-23 lead at halftime.
Clark continued her big game right into the second half hitting a jumper 30 seconds in and after a pair of turnovers, LaRae Rascoe and Deja Mitchell would convert jumpers for a 42-23 lead.
“My mindset entering this game was actually the same as any other game. I came in focused and ready to play which is what helped me have a better game today,” Clark said.
Alcorn ended up outscoring MVSU by five for the third quarter to hold a 55-37 lead entering the final 10 minutes. Just over two minutes into the fourth quarter, Diamond Hall drilled a three-pointer to give the Lady Braves their largest lead of 21 again on the night before taking the 68-53 victory.
The Lady Braves went 25-57 (43.9) from the field, 7-17 (41.2) from three and 11-19 (57.9) from the foul line. It was another game for Alcorn to force 20-plus turnovers which has been a key to their 3-1 start to conference play.
“With us being a small team, I feel like defensively us being aggressive is something we have to do. Being able to create turnovers and turn them into easy baskets gives us an advantage,” Clark said.
Zakiya Mahoney led the Devilettes with 19 points and also grabbed seven rebounds. Da’Sha McGloster also grabbed seven rebounds and added nine points, along with nine points from Annya Moss. MVSU went 19-41 (46.3) from the field, 4-10 (40) from three and 11-29 (37.9) from the foul line.
Alcorn will look to keep the strong start to the conference season going this Monday when they host Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Martin Luther King Jr. Day beginning at 1 p.m. inside Davey L. Whitney Complex.