BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Rasaan Powell scored 15 points and
grabbed 10 rebounds Saturday to lift Alcorn State to the Southwestern
Athletic Conference championship with a 56-47 victory over Southern
The Lady Braves earned their first conference title since 2001
and their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since making
back-to-back appearances in 2000-01.
"There is nothing like taking your team to the Big Dance,''
Alcorn State coach Shirley Walker said. "I was worried about our
rest, but we came out with intensity and were able to keep that up
The Lady Braves (21-8) never trailed in the contest, in spite of
a 32-point effort by Southern's Rolanda Monroe, who earned
tournament MVP honors. She tied her career high and finished with
a 28.6 scoring average for the tournament.
"It's hard for me to receive this trophy, because it means
nothing without the championship,'' Monroe said.
Only three other players scored for the Jaguars, with Ashley
Blake adding 11 points.
"When you play a basketball game and only four players score,
you're in trouble,'' said Southern coach Sandra Pugh. "We didn't
play well as a team. It was like we kind of sat back and tried to
let Rolanda do it all.''
In the first half, Monroe nearly did it all for Southern (15-15),
scoring 15 of the team's 18 points while grabbing four rebounds and
But Alcorn State took control of the game from the start, taking
an early 10-0 lead by holding the Jaguars scoreless through the
first five minutes. A 10-1 run by the Lady Braves would extend that
lead to 16 late in the first half.
"The first 10 minutes of the game gave us a lot of
confidence,'' said Alcorn State's LaToya Johnson. "That helped us
to prevail later when they made their runs.''
Monroe scored the last five points of the half to draw the
Jaguars to 29-18. In the second half, Southern would pull to 33-26,
but the Lady Braves answered with a 23-3 run.
Natasha Dennis and Tanika Nunez added 12 points each for Alcorn