Shorthanded Blossoms drop two more

Ray Charles once wrote the famous lines, “If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.” The University of Arkansas at Monticello Cotton Blossoms understand that song all too well.

UAM’s losing streak reached eight games as the young Blossoms dropped a 74-66 decision to Henderson State University at Steelman Field House on Saturday, two days after suffering through a 79-55 drubbing at the hands of rival Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia.

The Blossoms, now 5-12 overall and 1-10 in the Great American Conference, were shorthanded during both games. Freshman guard Poohnu Perry was out with a knee injury and junior guard Monique Biggins was absent because of a head injury suffered on Thursday just before UAM left to travel to Magnolia.

“It’s been a rough week for us as a team,” third-year Blossoms coach Tanya Ray said after the Henderson game on Saturday. “We were missing basically two starters in our last two games. I’m proud of the way we came out and fought (against Henderson); we were just a couple of players short.

“Monique’s injury was not suffered on the court. It happened just as we were getting ready to go to the game (at Southern Arkansas). We weren’t there; the team was with their teammate.

“I’m pleased with the effort, especially with some of the kids that don’t usually get a lot of playing time. Courtni Gibson and Raija (McWright) came in and gave us a lot of energy.”

Saturday, the Lady Reddies led for the first 10 minutes of the first half before the Blossoms went to the perimeter to take the lead with three-pointers from sophomore Nikki Mullen at the 8:30 mark and a trey from sophomore Tamia Grady a minute later for a four-point lead of 24-20 with 7:30 remaining in the opening half.

UAM took advantage of a pair of HSU turnovers three minutes later to take its largest lead of the half on fast-break layups from Grady and Gibson to give the Blossoms a 31-26 lead at the 3:21 mark. The Lady Reddies scored the final four points of the first half to give UAM a 33-32 at the break.

HSU regained a lead two minutes into the second half and maintained throughout the remainder of the contest. UAM trimmed the deficit to two points three times during a span of 16 minutes with the Lady Reddies leading by as much as eight points during that time.

The Blossoms made their final surge with just under two minutes remaining, getting to within one point on a three-pointer from Mullen at the 1:52 mark to give HSU a 63-62 advantage. Henderson State closed out the game outscoring UAM 9-4 and finished the half outscoring the Blossoms 42-33 in the final 20 minutes.

Grady led UAM with 18 points. Jordan Goforth followed with 15 and Mullen added 13. HSU’s Dunlicia Keener led all scorers with a double-double of 26 points and 11 rebounds.

And on Thursday, UAM gave up 21 points off 20 turnovers and got beat by 24 points. In the first half, neither team led by more than three points throughout the first 12 minutes before SAU used a 14-4 scoring run in between media timeouts to grab a 32-22 lead at the 3:35 mark.

Grady, Goforth and  Mullen led UAM in scoring. Grady had 17 points, Goforth had 16 and Mullen had 11.

“We’ve just got to get healthy, get our group back and keep pushing forward from this point,” Ray noted. “We need to be even more intense in practice. We have to come out and get better. There are some days, some moments in practice where the energy is low but we’ve got to keep pushing.

“That’s the one thing, I think, with this group that’s encouraging. We’re not at the point where it’s just going down the drain. We’re still pushing; that’s all you can ask of the kids.”

The Advance-Monticellonian

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