Women's Basketball Preview: Alcorn State
2016-17 Record and Finish: 9-21 (9-9 SWAC); Lost in SWAC Tournament Quarterfinals
Key Returners: PG Alexus Freeman, SG Tia Sanders, F Miracle Rushing
Key Losses: C Henrietta Wells
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Alcorn State took some steps in establishing itself as a tough matchup on its way to a quarterfinal appearance last season, but as coach Courtney Pruitt enters year three, the Lady Braves have designs on reaching loftier goals this season.
Improving from seventh to fifth in league standings last season, the Lady Braves are projected to finish fifth once again in 2017-18. Alcorn State has plenty to work with this season, although it must fill the hole left by now-graduated 2016-17 SWAC Defensive Player of the Year Henrietta Wells.
While the interior may be a point of concern, the backcourt is in very good hands. Led by Preseason All-SWAC Second Team guard and Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Alexus Freeman (10.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.3 APG, 2.4 SPG) – the 2016-17 SWAC Newcomer of the Year -- and returning leading scorer Tia Sanders (11.3 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 2.0 APG), the Braves have a solid duo to drive the offense.
Miracle Rushing (5.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.4 SPG) is a familiar face in the frontcourt, and a bump in her averages could bring a new dimension to the Lady Braves’ attack.
As far as new signees, the focus appears to be on versatility and size on the perimeter, and Alcorn has obtained what could be a sneaky good crop of recruits, led by guards Marie Tsoungui and Cloe Lane and post player Jamaysha Bernard. If one or more of the new faces pays immediate dividends – which may be a strong possibility as an Alcorn State player has won two of the last three SWAC Newcomer of the Year honors – the Lady Braves may be a dark horse contender worth watching closely.
Alcorn State’s out-of-conference schedule features contests versus Southern Miss (Nov. 24), Oral Roberts (Dec. 15), Wichita State (Dec. 16), Louisiana-Lafayette (Dec. 20) and Louisiana Tech (Dec. 29). The Lady Braves begin the 2017-18 slate at Southeastern Louisiana on Nov. 10.