When it was all over, Nate Kilbert let out a big “Yes!” on his way to the Arkansas-Pine Bluff locker room.
His Lady Lions had just handed Alabama State its first SWAC loss of the season. Chi Chi Okwumabua scored 14 points off the bench, hitting 10 of 10 from the foul line, and the Lady Lions knocked off the Lady Hornets 68-63 Sunday evening in H.O. Clemmons Arena. UAPB (5-7, 1-1 SWAC), which has won three of its last four games, will go for its second win streak of the season tonight against Alabama A&M.
“It was a great ballgame (Sunday),” Kilbert said. “I thought our kids played so well. They really executed, especially in the first half.”
Ten Lady Lions scored Sunday. Lakendra Marsh led all starters with 13 points, including 6-of-7 free throw shooting, and Christina Lasane and Cassidy Wright each added nine points. Jenise Gentry had a team-high eight rebounds to go with seven points.
UAPB shot only 39.6 percent (19 of 48) from the floor, but led by as much as 57-43. Alabama State (4-10, 2-1) drew within 64-61 on a Kierra Page three-point basket with 1:47 left, but missed two layups in the next few seconds.
Down 66-63, the Lady Hornets regained possession with 33.9 seconds left following a carrying violation against Okwumabua, but Page missed a three and fouled Marsh, who hit two free throws for the final margin.
“We did some things when we had a 10-point lead that’s not so normal for us,” Kilbert said. “I think these kids have been playing good basketball for a long time, we just don’t know how to win yet. We’re starting to understand how to win a little bit better.”
The Lady Lions have three more victories this season than in the past two years combined — and there are 16 more games to go before the SWAC tournament.
UAPB, which led 32-31 at halftime, hit 4 of 7 threes and 26 of 33 free throws. Alabama State was held to 30.6 percent shooting from the floor (19 of 62) including 5 of 24 from three-point range and converted 20 of 28 free throws.
Amaria Brown led the Lady Hornets with 13 points. Jasmine Settles added 12 and Quentori Alford had 11 rebounds to go with six points.
Sophomore Alexi Rollins, a Watson Chapel product, got the starting nod for UAPB, but did not score in 9 minutes of action. She had four rebounds.
Sunday’s win marked the first time in at least two seasons the Lady Lions reached a .500 win percentage in SWAC play.
“I talked to them today about pride,” Kilbert said. “We started having pride in what we do, and they showed a lot of pride (Sunday) in coming out and beating Alabama State. That’s a great win for our program.”