Ciani Cryor and Ataiya Bridges combined to score 52 points as Texas Southern celebrated Senior Night with an 88-59 victory over Alabama State Monday night. TSU won its fifth straight ball game and solidified its postseason seeding in the process.
Texas Southern (18-9, 13-3 SWAC) has won nine of the last 11 matchups versus Alabama State (9-18, 6-10).
The game was tied three times early in the first quarter. Cryor made a three-point basket to break a 6-6 tie and put TSU ahead 9-6. Niya Mitchell scored a layup for an 11-6 TSU lead. Texas Southern led 20-11 at the end of the first quarter as Cryor scored 10 points in eight minutes. The Tigers’ defense limited the Lady Hornets to three made baskets on 14 field goal attempts. Alabama State had five turnovers in the first period.
Alabama State had a 9-2 run to trim TSU’s lead to 22-20 with 6:58 remaining in the second quarter. Richelle Velez sank the first of four three-point baskets to end the Tigers’ scoring drought and increase TSU’s lead to 25-20 with slightly less than six minutes until halftime.
Bridges scored six straight points on a jumper, layup, and two free throws to boost TSU’s lead to 31-20 with 2:31 on the game clock. ASU scored five consecutive points to slice TSU’s lead to 31-25 with less than one-minute remaining in the first half. However, Cryor took over as she scored a layup, blocked a shot and scored another layup to send the Tigers to the locker room with a 35-25 halftime lead.
“We played a good game but I was a little frustrated early on as we weren’t playing the type of defense we should have been playing,” said head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke. “We were fouling way too much and putting them on the line to score points as opposed to making them make tough shots.”
Bridges knocked down a jump shot to begin the third quarter for a 37-25 TSU lead. ASU’s Armani Smith scored a layup to cut the Tigers’ lead to 10 points. Velez nailed two three-pointers to boost the lead to 43-28 while Cryor scored four in a row before Velez scored a layup from a Niya Mitchell assist. TSU led 49-30 with 5:31 left in the third period and eventually led by as much as 21 points (55-34) in the third quarter.
TSU was never threatened in the final quarter en route to the win. With the win, they remain in sole possession of second-place and the worst they could finish is tied for second with two games remaining in the regular season. The Tigers will host a first round SWAC Tournament matchup next Tuesday.
Bridges and Cryor combined to make all 18 of TSU’s free throw attempts in Monday’s win. Cryor was 7-for-7 from the line and 12-for-21 from the floor. In addition to her 34 points, Cryor added 8 assists, 6 rebounds, and 5 steals.
Bridges was a perfect 11-for-11 from the foul line and 8-for-12 on field goal attempts. Velez’s 14 points came from 4-for-8 three-point shooting and a layup. Texas Southern’s defense forced Alabama State into 23 turnovers and 34.5 percent shooting.
Tyesha Rudolph led the Lady Hornets with 15 points.
At the end of the day, we played solid defense enough to create some separation, and then it was just us, TSU women’s basketball, which is to get a steal, make a layup, knock down a three, get back, good deflection, rebound and run the floor,” said Cooper-Dyke. “It’s fun to play and fun to watch and that’s what we want our identity to be.”
Texas Southern goes on the road to face Southern on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.