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Lady Tigers knock off Arizona State at home

Sunday, November 19, 2023
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Grambling sophomore DeMya Young (24) celebrates with teammates after hitting the game-winning three-pointer to knock off Arizona State on Thursday in Grambling. Photo courtesy of GSU

Courtney Simmons came to Grambling State to make history. Consider Thursday’s night’s 70-67 win over Arizona State the first notch in that vision.

As part of the Pac-12 SWAC Legacy Series, the Grambling State Lady Tigers (2-2) knocked off Arizona State ( 3- 1) at the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center with perimeter shooting and pesky defensive pressure that kept the Sun Devils out of sorts and trailing for most of the second half to give the Lady Tigers a historic win.

The victory is GSU’s first over a Power Five opponent since 2018 and the second home win over a Power Five team in program history.

“I just want to enjoy this win with my girls — my players and my daughters,” GSU head coach Courtney Simmons said fighting through tears. “I can’t even put into words how much this means to me being able to have my children in the stands and my grandmother here. I looked up to Dr. (Trayvean) Scott at the end of the game and I told him, ‘I got you’ because he took a chance on a first- year head coach who had no experience who has a lot of passion and I want to see these kids do things that’s never been done before and I feel like tonight put is in position to be successful in the future.”

The Lady Tigers got the win thanks to big shooting performances from sophomore guards Jazmyne Jackson and DeMya Young, with the duo combining for 38 points while going 12-of-17 from three.

Jackson finished with 15 points on 5-of-5 shooting from deep, a sharp contrast to her 3-18 shooting from three over the previous three games. Young poured in a career-high 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including the game-winning three with 10 seconds left.

Simmons praised both of her young guards for stepping up in the moment after the game.

“I don’t think Jazmyne Jackson has even tapped into her potential,” Simmons said. “I think there’s no limit for this kid. I hate when people say the sky’s the limit. No, the sky’s not the limit for her, it’s just the view. She can do whatever it is she wants to do when she is focused, she is a really good player. I think tonight she was just locked in.”

She continued with her thoughts on Young, who averaged 3.5 minutes last season for GSU and sat the bench for most of her time at her previous school Little Rock.

“I think it’s DeMya’s time,” Simmons said. “DeMya has sat on the bench for the past three years from Little Rock to coming here last year, she didn’t play maybe two or three minutes a game if that. And I feel like she has sat and learned what not to do so that moments like this when her time comes, she showed up and showed out.”

GSU and ASU were tied at 18-18 after the first quarter, with the Lady Tigers’ foul trouble and cold offense keeping the Sun Devils in the contest.

ASU eventually grabbed a 30- 27 lead with five minutes left in the first half, taking advantage of GSU’s over-aggressiveness and size disadvantage in the paint. But then out of nowhere, Jackson came off the bench and sparked a rally that proved to be the difference on the night.

Over the final five minutes in the second quarter, GSU outscored ASU 18-2, led by Jackson knocking down her first three outside shots in succession. The Lady Tigers lived by the three in the frame, connecting on 9-of-12 from distance and outscoring ASU 2716 in the quarter to lead 45-32 at the break.

Simmons said the change in the game’s momentum came down to a simple shift for the Lady Tigers.

“We hit shots,” Simmons said. “The defensive end hasn’t been our issue. But it’s hard for us to continue to get stops when we can’t turn those turnovers into points. We saw that against North Texas where we shot maybe 22 percent from the field and then we did it again against South Florida where we turn them over 28 times but we shot 18% from the field. And I told the girls, ‘just stay diligent and you will eventually hit shots. And we’re going to shoot the lid off the gym tonight,’ and that’s exactly what they did.”

GSU kept it rolling in the third with a 14-point lead, as Young and Jackson continued to pour in offense, along with Brenda McKinney’s 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting. But the Sun Devils wouldn’t go down without a fight and began to turn GSU over at a high rate to make the final frame a nailbiter.

ASU started the fourth on a 4-0 run and continued to apply pressure to the Lady Tigers, cutting the deficit to 6661 with 3:30 left as GSU had managed 6 points and 7 turnovers in the quarter alone with 2:10 left to play.

The Sun Devils would tie it at 67-67 on a bouncedin three-pointer with 36.5 seconds left, outscoring GSU at that point 18-7 in the quarter to make it a tight finish. After turnovers and timeouts, the Lady Tigers had the ball with less than 20 seconds left with a chance to win it.

And with 10 seconds left, Young took the pass and nailed the game-clinching three, swarmed by teammates as ASU called timeout. She was 4-of-16 from three coming into the game.

“All glory to God. That’s how I feel right now,” Young said. “A lot of emotions. I’m excited for the season. This was the first big win and we’ve got a lot more in the season.”

With one last attempt to tie the game, ASU failed to secure the inbounds and tripped in front of its bench as the final buzzer sounded.

“This win was bigger than our women’s basketball team,” Simmons said. “I told them just looking at old footage from last year when our men’s basketball team was able to beat Colorado here at home and how much support they got after that win, and it wasn’t just for men’s basketball, it was for the city of Grambling, for all of Gram-fam.”

GSU (2-2) will travel to take on Big 12 newcomer Houston (2-0) Sunday at 2 p.m.