Jackson St women capture SWAC title, NCAA bid with clutch FT


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Cherelle Jones made two free throws with 13.9 seconds left and top-seeded Jackson State earned its first NCAA Tournament in 13 years with a 67-66 win over second seed Alabama State in the championship game of the Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament on Saturday.

Jones, who was 19 of 40 from the line this season, and 16 of 46 last season, came through after grabbing an offensive rebound. Moments earlier SWAC freshman of the year Farrah Pearson hit a 3-pointer from the left wing that put Alabama State on top 66-65 with 17.2 seconds left.

Ameshya Williams, the SWAC defensive player of the year, scored on a assist from Jones with 1:29 of go and Dayzsha Rogan, the SWAC player of the year, put the Tigers on top 65-63 with a pair of free throws at 33.1.

Those plays followed a 3-pointer from Ayana Emmanuel that capped an 11-0 Hornets run for a 63-61 lead.

Rogan led the Tigers (18-5) to their fifth NCAA Tournament with 25 points. Jones scored 13, going 7 of 9 from the foul line, and grabbed nine rebounds. Williams added 11 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks.

Emmanuel led the Hornets (16-4) with 17 points and Tamirea Thomas added 11.

The teams split during the regular season, with the Tigers securing the No. 1 seed by winning on the last day. However, this game was a slugfest with the Hornets trailing 46-29 with less than five minutes to go in the third quarter.

The game had 52 turnovers (30 on the winners), 47 fouls (27 on the losers) and 58 free throws while both teams shot less than 39% from the field.

Jackson State has won eight SWAC championships, dating to the pre-Division I days, breaking a tie for the most with Grambling State.


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