By Scott Chancey
The Albany State men's basketball team had a solid team effort,
and that was barely enough to hold off Anthony Sargent and Georgia
Southwestern. Four Rams scored in double figures while coach Chris
Cameron's team won, 83-78, Monday night in the Storm Dome.
Sargent, meanwhile, was the lone scorer in double figures for the Hurricanes with 34 points.
"This is awesome," said Cameron, who earned his first win since being named the team's full-time coach earlier this month. "To come here and beat a really good team like that, and for us to be down for most of the game, that says a lot about how resilient and how tough-minded our team can be."
Junior college transfer Antonio Steele led the Rams with 18 points, followed by Tyrone Evans (16), James Clark (15) and Scheraun King (14).
Although Clark was the point guard, filling in for the injured Sean Glenn, he came close to a double-double with eight rebounds. The Rams, who trailed, 43-39, at halftime, shot 65 percent from the floor after halftime and improved their record to 1-1. Albany State, which won the SIAC tournament championship last season, has the momentum it needs as it prepares for Thursday's conference opener at LeMoyne-Owen.
Georgia Southwestern, meanwhile, lost its first game of the season, but not without a valiant effort by Sargent. He had 17 points during each half.
"I told the team before (Monday's) game that the competition would get better with every game," Leeder said. "We really struggled defensively. They had NBA-style mismatches. We're not as good defensively as we were last year."
Steele is 6-foot-6 and was just one big player the Rams used; Cameron played 10 of the Rams brought to Georgia Southwestern. The Hurricanes, however, still led by nine points, 55-46, early during the second half.
"When you get a nine-point lead, especially at home, good teams put the team away," Leeder said.
The Rams had no answers for Sargent, so Cameron told his team to challenge every one of his shots.
"I told them to make (Sargent) take high-intensity shots, and that would be beneficial to us toward the end," Cameron said. "I told the guys if they kept up the pressure, eventually they would get tired."
It was only fitting that Evans scored the game's final points on a two-handed dunk as time expired. His putback with less than five minutes gave the Rams their first lead of the second half, 66-65.
"He played hard," Cameron said. "He was responsible for also bringing the defensive intensity to the entire team."
Evans knew when he had a chance to step up his play.
"We were able to maximize on our mismatches," Evans said. "They had a smaller guard on me."
Evans added a basket off an assist from Steele to make it 68-65, but Sargent - as he seemingly did time and time again - had the answer with a clutch shot of his own, sinking a 3-pointer to tie the game.
With the score tied at 70, two free throws by Clark jumpstarted the Rams final run. Evans stole and errant pass and scored on a layup, King added a jumper and two more free throws by Clark gave the Rams a 77-71 lead.
"We got the momentum and we wanted to stay on top and not give the lead back," Evans said.
The Hurricanes made one final rally with two Sargent free throws and a basket by Michael Carter to narrow the lead to 81-78.
The Rams, however, broke through Georgia Southwestern's press and found Evans wide open for the two-handed dunk.