The Arkansas-Pine Bluff women’s basketball team held off a late run by Alabama A&M as the Lady Lions picked up only their third win of the season with a 79-72 victory over the Lady Bulldogs Saturday night at H.O. Clemmons Arena.
“We closed it out, but we just made too many mistakes down the stretch,” UAPB head coach Nate Kilbert said. “Against a really good team — and A&M isn’t quite there yet — they are going to make you pay for it.
“… The game shouldn’t have been close to be honest with you. Our seniors have got to play better and they got to play smarter down the stretch.”
UAPB (3-17, 2-8 SWAC) was clinging to a two-point lead with 1:31 left in the game when freshman Mollie Campbell took a charge and Christina Lasane hit two-free throws with 56 seconds left to give the Lady Lions a 70-66 lead.
With less than a minute left in the game, UAPB made 9 of its 16 free throws to close out the game and secure the win over A&M (3-17, 1-9).
“We got to make free throws in the latter part of the game, so it won’t be as close down the stretch,” Kilbert said. “A win for us is a win and we needed it desperately.
“Hopefully we can take this win and go on a two-game winning streak.”
UAPB will complete its four-game homestand on Monday when it hosts Alabama State beginning at 5:30 p.m.
The Lady Lions have won two of the three games so far, so at worst UAPB will finish this home stand at .500.
“I don’t even want to think about .500,” Kilbert said. “… We think we can win Monday night. We played Alabama State well up there.
“We just got to execute our plays, we got to play sound defense and we got to rebound the ball.”
UAPB, which got outrebounded by A&M 43 to 42, was leading 38-34 at the beginning of the second half. The Lady Bulldogs went on an 8-0 run to take a 42-38 lead with about 17 minutes left in the game. It was their only lead of the entire game.
“We get comfortable when we get leads and we got to get away from that,” Kilbert said. “We got to play like we are down all the time.
“If we can get our kids to play like we are down all the time, and rebound like we are suppose to, I think we will be OK.”
UAPB sophomore Cassidy Wright hit a layup with 16:52 left and Marion Thompson completed a three-point play with 15:44 to retake the lead at 43-42.
Wright led the team in scoring with 15 points on 5-of-17 shooting and 4 of 6 from the free-throw line. Charisse Carr contributed with 14 points and eight rebounds and Campbell scored a season-high nine points on 4-of-5 shooting and four rebounds.
Carlisha Walker came off the bench and scored 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting. She also grabbed six rebounds.
“The coach always says the bench gives us energy,” Walker said. “When we come off the bench, we just have to go hard.
“Me, Jazmyne (Victorian), and Cassidy got to give the team that spark.”
Thanks in large part to Wright and Walker, UAPB’s bench outscored A&M’s 46-16. Victorian scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds.
“Coach always talks about pride and hustle,” Walker said. “When I go out there, that’s the main thing I’m thinking about.”
During the first three games of this homestand, Walker scored five points against Grambling State, 13 against Jackson State — a season high, and now 12 against A&M.
“She is a big key for us,” Kilbert said. “I don’t think she really realizes how important she is for our ballclub.
“Once she starts to realize we need her to do a lot of things on the offensive end and the defensive end, we are going to be a real good ballclub.”
For A&M, Brittney Strickland scored a game-high 20 points on 7 of 13 from the floor. Jasmine Sanders contributed with 19 points and 12 rebounds and Alyssa Strickland had 10 points and five rebounds.
Dumas native Shabr’an Richardson scored four points with three rebounds for the Lady Bulldogs.