Wallace State's men have won all sorts of ways over the last four weeks, but the Lions feast in the transition game. Thursday's shootout played right into their hands.
"Every time you play Gadsden State it's a fast-paced, up-tempo game. Normally we try to control the tempo against them, but this season we are fast, so we can get out and run and that's been good for us. We feel like we can run with anybody. We got caught up in the hype offensively at times and broke down fundamentally, but our ability to score some easy baskets in transition was the difference in the game," said Wallace State coach John Meeks, who is in the midst of his longest winning streak with the Lions.
Wallace State (16-4, 2-0 Alabama Community College Conference) had five players finish with double figures. Sophomore guard Marcus Johnson led the way with 20 points, Lee Moore added 19, Jestin Lewis poured in 17, Cody Farley had 12 and Quinterian McConico contributed 11 off the bench.
Wallace State led the entire game. The Lions scooted out to a 28-12 lead halfway through the first half and extended it to 31-15 after Farley hit a 3-pointer with 8:21 remaining before intermission.
Wallace State led 45-38 at the half.
Gadsden State never faded in the second half, however. The Cardinals trimmed Wallace State's lead to as little as one point on three different possessions early in the second half, but the Lions always had an answer.
Wallace State then used a 15-5 run to claim a 70-56 lead with 12:44 left, getting five straight points from Lewis and baskets on consecutive possessions from McConico during the surge.
Gadsden State battled back again. With 1:01 remaining, Jay Watkins nailed a 3-pointer for the Cardinals to trim Wallace State's advantage to 89-86. Johnson responded for Wallace State with a floater in the lane and a pair of free throws on back-to-back possessions to make it 93-86 with 35 seconds remaining.
Gadsden State's Watkins appeared to have a chance to make it one possession game with a layup, but Wallace State's Marcus Burwell skied for an emphatic block to put a lid on any comeback.
Meeks was glad his team never relinquished its lead.
"That's about maturity and having eight sophomores. We challenged them in those late situations to make a play on the defensive end. We know every game in this conference is going to be decided within the last five minutes." Meeks said. "We had tons of energy and excitement on the offensive end the entire game, but needed that on defense and
Marcus Burwell made an extreme play. Gadsden State has a chance if that's not blocked."
Burwell added nine points to Wallace State's output.
Watkins, who played for Wallace State during the 2010-11 season, finished with 20 points in the loss, while Pat Edmonds scored 16.
Wallace State men's forward Quinterian McConico converts a reverse layup against Gadsden State on Thursday night. McConico had 11 points off the bench.