The Alabama State women tried to secure an overtime victory but missed seven of eight free-throw attempts to keep Southern alive.
Then after Britney Washington put the Jaguars ahead by a point on a driving basket with eight seconds left, teammate Tashi-ana Thompson was called for a foul while trapping Durriya Sampson a half-second later.
Sampson, who had missed four free throws in overtime, including two just 17 seconds before, made both free throws to give the Lady Hornets a 60-59 lead. That became the final score when Southern’s Cortnei Purnell missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer Saturday in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
“(Sampson) has been in my program for five years and she’s a graduate,” Alabama State coach Freda Freeman-Jackson said. “There’s no substitute for experience.”
Though the game was decided in the final seconds, Jaguars coach Sandy Pugh looked back on the earlier stages of the game.
“You can’t blame it on one play,” Pugh said. “That game never should have gone to overtime. We never should have been down 10 points. We didn’t come ready to play, and they outhustled us from beginning to end.”
Alabama State (6-9, 4-2 Southwestern Athletic Conference) won its fourth straight game. Southern (8-8, 5-2) saw its five-game winning streak end. The Jaguars host Alabama A&M at 3 p.m. Monday.
The Lady Hornets got off to a fast start in overtime as Ashanti Spencer scored on a drive just 13 seconds into the extra period. Britney Wright followed with a steal, the first of four turnovers by Southern in overtime, and a layup.
After a layup by Southern’s Briana Green, Wright scored on another layup. Wright, the SWAC Preseason Player of the Year, finished with nine points on 2-of-13 shooting.
“She stepped up when it counted,” Jackson said. “The big thing was she kept her poise.”
After Purnell made a jumper, Spencer made one of two free throws to give ASU a 58-55 lead with 2:16 left.
Kadesha Berry’s basket on a drive got the Jaguars within one with 29 seconds left. and Sampson missed two free throws before Washington gave Southern its short-lived lead.
Though the Lady Hornets made just five of 12 free throws in overtime, they outscored the Jaguars by 10 points at the line, making 18-of-33 on free throws compared with Southern’s 8-of-13.
“They outhustled us,” said Green, who scored a game-high 16 points as she started in place of Washington, who scored 14 despite missing practice most of the week because of a sore foot.
Spencer led Alabama State with 15 points off the bench, and Sampson scored 11.
Daniele Ewart, Ashanti Spencer and Kayla Tucker made consecutive 3-pointers as the Hornets’ hot shooting gave them a 19-8 lead after one quarter.
ASU made just two field goals in the second quarter, and Skylar O’Bear’s 3-pointer started a 7-0 Southern run to close the quarter, leaving ASU with a 27-24 halftime lead.
Southern pulled even at 39 — the first time it didn’t trail since the score as 6-6 — but ASU regained a 47-44 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Green sandwiched two baskets around one by teammate Miaya Crowder as the Jaguars took a 50-47 lead, but ASU, which scored just four points in the fourth quarter, forced overtime when Jasmine Peeples made a layup for the final points of regulation with 2:40 left.