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Albany Tech women win local duel against Darton, 66-63; GSW, ATC men roll; GSW women fall

January 23, 2011 - If you wanted a game that featured tons of drama and kept the crowd on their feet most of the afternoon, then look no further than the showdown Saturday at HPER between the Albany Tech women’s basketball team and Darton College as the Lady Titans held on for a thrilling 66-63 win.

And Lady Titans coach Kenneth Williams can thank Bainbridge’s Deja Cooper for that.

Cooper, ATC’s shooting guard turned floor general, found the open spots Saturday — especially from deep as she connected for three 3-pointers — on her way to a game-high, season-high and career-high 25 points, with 15 coming in the second half alone.

“She sacrifices a lot,” Williams said. “She is a natural two (guard) but I’ve got her playing a lot of point because we have two of our point guards out with ACL injuries.”

Darton’s defense, anchored by 6-foot-6 Kenyan native Dorine Minala — who had a game-high 12 rebounds — held ATC’s center and leading scorer Ann Wilcher (14.6 points per game) to only eight points, but Cooper was there to pick up the slack. She was 7-of-11 from the field, including a key coast-to-coast layup to tie the game at 62-62 with 1:07 left after ATC fell behind for the first time in the second half following a bucket by Darton’s D’Arcy Williams.

“I was thinking, ‘I have to make this basket,’” Cooper said of her game-tying layup, which marked her 23rd point of the contest.

But as it turned out, Nos. 24 and 25 for Cooper would be even bigger.
After Darton got the ball back, Christina Brown — who finished with a team-high 17 points — drove to the bucket and was fouled. And while Brown’s first shot missed, her second went in to give Darton a 63-62 advantage. Brown then stole the Lady Titans’ inbounds pass and was fouled again, but couldn’t convert either of her shots from the charity stripe with 20 seconds left that would’ve put the Lady Cavs ahead by three. After the second miss, Albany Tech’s Bianca Fennessee grabbed the rebound, raced down the court and was fouled on her drive. Fennessee then calmly knocked down both shots to put Darton ahead, 64-63, with four seconds remaining.

Then it was Cooper’s turn to play hero as she stole the Lady Cavs’ inbounds pass — then was fouled — and went to line, where she sank two clutch free throws to give her 25 points for the game and put ATC ahead, 66-63, sealing the win.

“Darton is a tough team,” Williams said of the first of two meetings between the two budding local rivals. “We want to win the conference and this is where it started at.”

Brown may have led Darton in scoring, but it was a string of baskets late in the second half by Amber McKenzie that rallied the Lady Cavs to put them in position for the win.

“She was outstanding and a key to our offense,” Darton coach Laura Blackwell said of McKenzie, who scored 10 of her 12 points in the second half, including a layup to bring the game to 60-60 with 2:37 left.

The first half of the game was a defensive chess match as Darton stifled ATC down low behind the efforts of Minala, who refused to let any ATC shot inside go uncontested. But when Minala — who finished with seven points — went to the bench late in the first half, ATC took advantage under the glass, which led to a number of second-chance opportunities. The Lady Titans then closed out the half on a 7-0 run that gave them the 31-24 lead at intermission.
ATC stretched that lead to 52-39 at the 9:01 mark in the second half, but Brown brought Darton back to set up a wild final minute.

The win improved ATC to 12-5 overall and 2-2 in Region XVII as it tries to stay in the Top 3, while the loss for Darton was the Lady Cavs’ first in conference play and dropped them to 12-8 overall and 2-1 in region play.

Darton will try to rebound Monday when it travels to face Atlanta Metro, while the Lady Titans will head to Cuthbert on Monday to battle another local foe when it takes on Andrew College.

Albany Tech men hold off Gordon College on Saturday for big region ‘W’; No. 21-ranked GSW men beat CSU, women fall

ALBANY — Justin Wilcox led the way for a host of ATC double-digit scorers with 14 points on Saturday in a 77-61 win against Gordon College.
Wilcox was followed by Rahaem James with 13 and Duran Blue and Michael Cofield with 11 each. With the win, ATC improved to 13-3 overall and 2-2 in Region XVII.


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