NORMAL, Alabama— Alabama A&M fell behind by its largest deficit when it trailed by five at home midway through the second half against arch rival Alabama State Saturday night and its leading scorer hadn’t done much of anything on offense.
Both of those things would change as the Bulldogs outscored the Hornets by 12 the rest of the way on their way to a 64-57 win at T.M. Elmore Gymnasium.
Sparked by junior forward Demarquelle Tabb, who scored 11 of his game-high 17 in the game’s final 10 minutes, A&M snapped a two-game losing streak to improve to 7-9 and move to above .500 at 3-2 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
“Like coach says, I gotta be aggressive because the team follows me,” said Tabb, voted the SWAC’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. “I had to pick it up because I was little sluggish in the first half. I picked up my aggressiveness in the second half. So, we got it together.”
Tabb scored just three points on 1-for-5 shooting in the first half but the Bulldogs took a three-point lead into the break when point guard Jeremy Crutcher got the hoop and the harm with six seconds left in the first half then added a free throw to put his team ahead 33-30.
Alabama State opened the second half on an 18-10 run before Tabb came to life, scoring nine in a row at one point to help lift the Bulldogs to their sixth win at home this season.
“I was a little concerned because I know that’s the way (Alabama State coach Lewis Jackson) Lew Jack wants to play,” second-year coach A&M coach Willie Hayes said. “He wants to keep that score as low as possible. He wants to make the game as lethargic as possible. When they got up five points, I kept looking up at that clock, saying ‘Something’s gotta happen for us’.
Crutcher carried the Bulldogs in the first half, scoring 13 points and finished with 16 to go along with three assists, two steals and a pair of rebounds. Do-it-all forward Brandon Ellis added 14 and eight boards for the Bulldogs who don’t play again until next Saturday when they entertain Alcorn State (Miss.) in another conference meeting.
Crutcher went down with about three minutes to go after taking a nasty fall never to return. He walked off the court with an ice pack on his shoulder. Hayes had no status on his condition after the game.
ASU (6-13) got 16 points from forward Phillip Crawford, who showed off an array of head fakes and turnaround jumpers while matched up against 7-foot-1 A&M center Justan Banks. Freshman point guard Jamel Waters added 12 for the Hornets who host Southern next Saturday.
A&M rebounded, following a pair of losses at Mississippi Valley State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff after a six-day stretch during which they played four games. Saturday’s announced attendance was 3,449.
“It’s pretty big,” Tabb said of the win. “Like coach said, ‘If you can’t get up for this game. Something’s wrong with you and we were ready for it.”
Courtesy: UAH Media Relations