Kenderek Washington scored a career-high 29 points and Tramaine Butler added 25 to lead Alabama State to an 88-80 win over Texas Wesleyan in their second game at the E-Tech Lumberjack Classic.
The Hornets shot 48 percent from the field and 46 percent from beyond the three point line in scoring the team's most points of the season. It was a well-balanced game for ASU scoring 45 points in the first half and 43 in the second.
Stephawn Brown came off the bench to add 12 points to the ASU total and Ivory White added a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
ASU led 45-33 at halftime built largely on Butler's 20-point outburst. The first half saw ASU knock down 17 of their 34 field goal attempts (50%) and eight of their 16 three pointers (8-16). This half came exactly one day after the Hornets could only score 48 points in the loss to Stephen F. Austin.
"I thought we moved the ball much better today and I think the guys were committed to working to get themselves open which put us in a position to run our offense and get good looks at the basket and we came out shooting it very well," head coach Lewis Jackson said. "We were able to open up some things and we were able to make some baskets and it worked for us the entire game."
Texas Wesleyan came into the game as the seventh ranked team in the National Association of Intercollege Athletics (NAIA) and was led by six NCAA Division I transfers. Ronnie Moss and Eric Frederick entered the game averaging 25 points per game and the key to winning the game was to hold down those two scoring leaders.
Moss, Texas Christian University's leading scorer a year ago, struggled on the offensive end only scoring 10 points, 15 below his average. He only hit three of his 18 field goal attempts and was oh-of-seven from beyond the three-point line.
Frederick was able to make up some of the ground scoring 33 points using his 6'-8" and 260 pound frame to muscle in several shots around the basket. He was also able to knock down four thee point attempts and led the Rams with 10 rebounds.
"It is a testament to how hard Jeff Middlebrooks played defense on Moss to hold him to 10 points," Jackson stated. "We knew he was the key to their offense and although the big kid (Frederick) scored a bunch being 6'-8" with a 6'-4" guarding him, we knew Moss would be the guy that we had to defend and Jeff did an outstanding job making it hard for him to get the ball and also making him take tough shots."
Even with the 12 point halftime lead the Hornets knew they would have their work cut out for them in the second half, and they did. TWU came out and cut the lead to three points several times during the second half, the final time at 74-71 on a layup from Oscar Griffin with 3:46 left.
"During their run we told our team during the timeout to continue to play with poise as all good teams do. This was not your ordinary NAIA team with six NCAA Division I transfers, and three guys were the leading scorers at the other schools they were at," Jackson added. "Just be poised and continue to work the ball around and get good shots and we have to play defense, make them take tough shots at the basket."
After TWU cut the lead to three for the final time, ASU was able to keep just out of reach with two baskets from White, a three from Washington and a basket from Brown. The final two minutes of the game came down to a free throw shooting and ASU was able to hit six free throws including two from Washington with nine seconds left to push the lead out to the final eight-point margin.
ASU finished the game out rebounding the taller Rams 43-41 and knocked down 14 of their 21 free throw attempts. Both teams did a good job of taking care of the basketball with TWU committing only 10 turnovers and ASU 12.