The Delta State University Statesmen and Lady Statesmen had a huge night here Thursday at the Walter Sillers Coliseum.
Both DSU teams clinched berths in the Gulf South Conference men’s and women’s basketball tournaments as they swept the University of Alabama-Huntsville Chargers and Lady Chargers.
The Lady Statesmen (14-8, 12-6 GSC) won the women’s game 59-45, while the Statesmen (13-11, 10-8 GSC) won the men’s game 86-76.
The win was particularly big for the Statesmen as they won their second game in a row after going through a five-game losing streak. During that five game losing streak, DSU had some injuries as they had to play without Jack Madgen, Zelvin Smith and Alister Chisholm at various times. Over the last two games, all three of those guys have been able to get minutes on the court.
In Thursday’s game against the Chargers, Smith scored 14 points with five rebounds in 32 minutes, Chisholm scored 11 points with six rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes and Madgen scored six points in 15 minutes.
“This is a really tough league,” Statesmen head coach Jim Boone said. “When you are going out there and you’re shorthanded, it’s even tougher. We had some guys who really stepped up and gave us some really good minutes. I was very pleased with our effort, particularly defensively to start the game.”
The star of the game was Devin Schmidt again as he scored 33 points with seven rebounds and a team-high four assists. Schmidt has scored 30 or more points in a game three times this season. Schmidt is currently averaging 20.3 points per game, which is second in the GSC. The sophomore is only 14 points away from 1,000 in his career at DSU. Only 14 players in DSU history have reached 1,000 points.
Former East Side standouts LaQuavius Cotton and PJ Davis scored 12 points and 10 points respectively to round out DSU’s offense. Cotton had seven rebounds, while Davis had nine.
Justin Ward led the Chargers with 19 points, followed by Seab Webster with 15 points and Troy Saxton with 14 points. The Chargers fell to 17-7 with a 12-6 mark in the conference. The Chargers were in sole possession of first place in the GSC heading into the contest. UAH, West Georgia (17-6, 12-6 GSC) and West Alabama (17-9, 12-6 GSC) are now all tied for first.
In the women’s game, the Lady Statesmen did a good job of taking care of the ball against the Lady Chargers as they turned the ball over just nine times with UAH turning it over 16 times in the game.
“We only had three turnovers in the second half,” Lady Statesmen head coach Craig Roden said. “That’s real big when you’re trying to go inside, and you’re trying to play inside out and they’re jamming it up. You’ve got to take care of the ball, and you’ve got to have some offensive patience.”
The Lady Statesmen got another great performance from Chelsey Rhodes as she scored 23 points with four assists. Rhodes has scored in double figures in 18 of her 22 games this year. She is currently averaging 15.9 points per game, which puts her fifth in the GSC.
Seneca Walton scored 14 points with four assists and two blocks, and Rhandi Ball scored 11 points with seven steals to aid DSU.
Juanice Newton scored 11 points to lead the Lady Chargers. UAH fell to 10-14 with a 7-11 mark in the conference.
Both DSU teams will return to the court for GSC action on Saturday when they host North Alabama. The women’s game will be at 2 p.m., while the men’s game will be at 4 p.m.