HANCEVILLE – Wallace State’s basketball teams put on a show against Gadsden State in their first conference doubleheader Thursday night.
The Lady Lions opened the night with a dominating 87-64 triumph at Tom Drake Coliseum, and the men capped the sweep with a 97-92 victory, extending their winning streak to nine games.
Wallace State’s men have won all sorts of ways over the last four weeks, but the Lions feast in the transition game. Thursday’s shootout played right into their hands.
“Every time you play Gadsden State it’s a fast-paced, up-tempo game. Normally we try to control the tempo against them, but this season we are fast, so we can get out and run and that’s been good for us. We feel like we can run with anybody. We got caught up in the hype offensively at times and broke down fundamentally, but our ability to score some easy baskets in transition was the difference in the game,” said Wallace State coach John Meeks, who is in the midst of his longest winning streak with the Lions.
Wallace State (16-4, 2-0 Alabama Community College Conference) had five players finish with double figures. Sophomore guard Marcus Johnson led the way with 20 points, Lee Moore added 19, Jestin Lewis poured in 17, Cody Farley had 12 and Quinterian McConico contributed 11 off the bench.
Wallace State led the entire game. The Lions scooted out to a 28-12 lead halfway through the first half and extended it to 31-15 after Farley hit a 3-pointer with 8:21 remaining before intermission.
Wallace State led 45-38 at the half.
Gadsden State never faded in the second half, however. The Cardinals trimmed Wallace State’s lead to as little as one point on three different possessions early in the second half, but the Lions always had an answer.
Wallace State then used a 15-5 run to claim a 70-56 lead with 12:44 left, getting five straight points from Lewis and baskets on consecutive possessions from McConico during the surge.
Gadsden State battled back again. With 1:01 remaining, Jay Watkins nailed a 3-pointer for the Cardinals to trim Wallace State’s advantage to 89-86. Johnson responded for Wallace State with a floater in the lane and a pair of free throws on back-to-back possessions to make it 93-86 with 35 seconds remaining.
Gadsden State’s Watkins appeared to have a chance to make it one possession game with a layup, but Wallace State’s Marcus Burwell skied for an emphatic block to put a lid on any comeback.
Meeks was glad his team never relinquished its lead.
“That’s about maturity and having eight sophomores. We challenged them in those late situations to make a play on the defensive end. We know every game in this conference is going to be decided within the last five minutes.” Meeks said. “We had tons of energy and excitement on the offensive end the entire game, but needed that on defense and
Marcus Burwell made an extreme play. Gadsden State has a chance if that’s not blocked.”
Burwell added nine points to Wallace State’s output.
Watkins, who played for Wallace State during the 2010-11 season, finished with 20 points in the loss, while Pat Edmonds scored 16.
Wallace State women 87, Gadsden State 64
Freshman forward Morgan Smith tallied her first career double-double with 18 points and 15 rebounds, Morgan Pearson added 20 points and six rebounds off the bench and the Lady Lions cruised in their conference opener, eliminating any intrigue between two rivals who entered with only five losses combined.
Wallace State (16-3, 1-0 ACCC) maintained a 44-34 cushion at halftime and poured it on in the second half, handing Gadsden State its first conference loss.
“That’s as close to 40 quality minutes as we’ve played this year. Our team is focused on the goal, and they know in this conference that you’re going to have to cover your home floor and hope to steal a couple on the road. They made sure we took care of business. I thought our defense was as good as it’s been, especially against such a quality opponent,” said Wallace State coach Ron Burdette, whose team has won 12 of 13 and is undefeated in seven games at home. “I’m ecstatic about this win. All in all, it’s one of the best victories I’ve experienced in my three years as head coach. I’m excited for our team.”
Jaylan Snowden added 17 points for Wallace State and Jasmine Coleman flirted with a double-double, finishing with 15 points and nine rebounds.
Both teams traded leads multiple times in the game’s opening six minutes. After Wallace State’s Coleman tied the game at 12-12 with 13:40 remaining in the first half, the Lady Lions orchestrated the first significant run of the game, using a 9-4 surge to grab a 23-15 advantage. It was capped on a 3-pointer by Smith with 11:53 to go in the first half.
Gadsden State chipped away and cut Wallace State’s lead to 33-32 with 3:22 left before half. The Lions then put together an 11-2 run to help put the game out of reach. Brandee Busenlehner finished off the first half in dramatic fashion by draining a 3-pointer as time expired, giving the Lady Lions a 44-34 advantage.
Wallace State never took its foot off the pedal the rest of the way.
“Brandee’s 3-pointer was huge before the half. You couldn’t hear in our locker room because we were so excited. Momentum is a crazy thing, and we were able to regain it before the half. Gadsden State was never the same,” Burdette said. “We did a good job of shutting down a good player (Lacey Buchanan) and a good team. We did a good job of getting them out of their comfort zone.”
Buchanan, the conference’s leading scorer, led Gadsden State (15-3, 1-1 ACCC) with 19 points, shooting 7 of 10 from the free throw line. Carla Clemmons added 16 points.
Both Wallace State teams play their first conference road games at Southern Union on Tuesday.
For more information about Wallace State athletics, visit wallacestate.edu.
Wallace State Community College
P.O. Box 2000, Hanceville, AL 35077
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