Kenderek Washington scored 21 points and Jeffery Middlebrooks added 13 as Alabama State University opened the 2011-12 season with a 65-57 exhibition win over Fort Valley State University.
The Hornets actually opened up a 15-point lead (47-32) on a basket from freshman Luther Page with 13 minutes left in the game. From there the visiting Wildcats began to cut into the lead on the strength of five three-pointers, two from Randy Graham, to cut the lead to 54-51 with just under six minutes left in the game.
That would be as close as the visitors would get as ASU went on to outscore FVSU 11-6 over the final 3:35 of the game, with Page scoring four of those points.
"I thought the guys did a pretty good job of trying to protect the basketball when Fort Valley was making their run," head coach Lewis Jackson said. "Jeff (Middlebrooks) had to log a lot of minutes, but we have to get tougher and our press offense has to be better. We certainly have to do better on defense."
"It was good to get a short-handed win, but we have to go back to the drawing board because we have a lot of work to do."
ASU only played nine players in the game so a lot of the younger players logged a lot of playing time. Page finished the game with 10 points in his first collegiate action and also had six rebounds. Jonathan Jefferson had five points and seven rebounds in 25 minutes of action. His three-pointer at the eight minute mark was able to push ASU's lead back out to nine points (54-45) in the midst of FVSU's run.
"I saw out of our young players that we still have a lot of work to do," Jackson said. "But I was happy with some things I saw them do. We just have to keep working and we needed a close game like this to see where we are at."
ASU went into halftime with a 37-28 lead after finishing the half on a 12-1 run. FVSU actually led 27-25 with four minutes left in the half. Washington gave ASU their first lead (28-27) on a three-pointer with 3:50 left in the half and ASU would not trail again.
ASU out shot FVSU 41-33 percent and outrebounded the visitors 49-27. Stephawn Brown led ASU with a game-high 13 rebounds with Jefferson grabbing seven.
The Wildcats played 16 players with Kenneth Simmons leading the way with nine points. Desmond Lofland and Kyle Cooper had eight each and Detrius McCall had a team-high seven rebounds.