MONTGOMERY, AL - The Alabama State University men's basketball team overcame a double-digit first half deficit and 12 three-pointers by Grambling State to earn a hard fought 81-76 victory Thursday night at Dunn-Oliver Acadome.
ASU (15-13, 12-5 SWAC) extended its season-best win streak to six games while also holding onto sole possession of third-place in the SWAC standings with one game remaining. Grambling (6-19, 4-13 SWAC) made a late charge in the closing minutes but came up just short despite shooting 52 percent (12-for-23) from beyond the arc in the game.
Senior Tramayne Moorer posted his sixth double-double of the season for ASU finishing with 21 points and 15 rebounds, while fellow senior Menji Mundadi also tallied 21 points including four three-pointers. It marks the third time this season the Hornet duo have both posted 20-plus points in the same game.
A trio of Tigers notched double figures led by 19 points from Rupert Rose, who was a perfect 10-10 from the free throw line. Donald Qualls and Lance Fuertado each finished with 18 points. Qualls made six of the team's dozen long balls while Fuertado pulled down 10 boards to earn his second double-double of the year versus ASU.
"We talk all the time to our team about keeping their focus for the entire game," said ASU head coach Lewis Jackson. "We kept telling them that it's not over until it's over. We made some silly mistakes in the final minutes and we have to get that fixed before next week. I'm still excited to get the win and keep our win streak rolling."
After surrendering the opening basket, Alabama State answered with nine straight points including seven from Tramayne Moorer to build a 9-3 edge. However, a trio of treys sparked an 11-0 Tiger run that put them in front by five, 14-9, at the 14:57 mark.
Grambling State continued to connect from outside with back-to-back three-pointers capping a 9-0 run that gave the Tigers a double-digit advantage, 23-12, with 10:56 left to play in the half. Over the next several minutes, the Hornets forced several turnovers and scored nine points in a row to get back into the contest.
Later in the half, Moorer hit a layup and a triple cutting the Bama State deficit to just one, 27-26, with 4:34 remaining. But, Kevin Loyd drilled the Tigers' sixth trey of the half to extend the lead back to four. Grambling State maintained an advantage until the final buzzer when Mundadi dropped in his third shot from long distance tying the score at the half, 37-37.
Both teams were hot from outside during the opening 20 minutes as GSU made 8-of-12 (66.7 percent) three-point attempts and ASU finished with five treys. Qualls connected on five threes in the first half.
An eight point surge early in the second half seemed to give momentum to the Hornets, but another trey by Grambling State halted the run. The Tigers continued to battle eventually evening the score at 46 with 14:29 remaining.
A bigger and deeper ASU squad finally began to gain control over the next six minutes. The Hornets used a 16-3 run to build a double-digit lead, 62-49, with 8:04 left in the game. Alabama State maintained its double-figure margin for most of the second half until the scrappy G-Men made a final charge in the closing minutes.
Trailing 75-61 with 1:39 left, Grambling State tallied eight straight points as part of a 15-4 rally to pull within three points with 12 seconds remaining. A.J. Spencer calmly made a pair of free throws making it a two possession game and the Tigers final three-point attempt fell harmlessly off the rim allowing ASU to earn the win.
Alabama State now concludes its regular season slate Saturday at 5 p.m. against Jackson State at the Acadome. ASU's senior class of Menji Mundadi, Tramayne Moorer and Byron Walker will be honored during a ceremony prior to Saturday's contest.