Lady Braves overcome Monroe's 32 points

Updated: March 13, 2005, 12:08 AM ET
Associated Press

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 University.

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 throughout.''

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 three steals.

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 State.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press