Dalton State basketball survives scare to advance in SSAC tourney

The Dalton State College basketball team survived a late scare from William Carey University in an 84-82 victory Thursday to advance to the semifinals of the Southern States Athletic Conference tournament in Montgomery, Alabama.

The second-seeded Roadrunners got out to a 15-point lead at the half at 43-28, but a flurry of 3-pointers from No. 7 seed William Carey cut the deficit to 58-55 with 7:50 remaining in the game. Dalton State quickly responded with a 9-0 run to seize back momentum, but the Crusaders cut the score back again to just two in the waning seconds. The Roadrunners were able to hit enough free throws to keep ahead and escape with the win.

"I thought we played really well for the majority of the game," Dalton State head coach Alex Ireland said. "They were able to make it a little closer there at the end than we wanted."

With the win, the Roadrunners (28-3, 16-3 SSAC) play in the semifinal round Friday at 3 p.m. CST against third-seeded Stillman College. The Tigers advanced to the semis with an 80-75 win over Middle Georgia State Thursday.

Dalton State senior forward Dauson Womack led the Roadrunners with 21 points on a 7-for-8 shooting clip and pulled down 13 rebounds. Newly-named SSAC Co-Player of the Year Randy Bell scored 20, Aaron Burress netted 17 and Kevon Tucker added 12 for Dalton State. Brandon Cranford led William Carey with 21.

The Roadrunners out-rebounded William Carey 41-31, but committed 20 turnovers to the Crusaders' 15.

"We had a really good, versatile attack going throughout the game," Ireland said. "Dauson had a really good game for us, and Burress had a good game."

Dalton State defeated semifinal opponent Stillman 89-81 on Jan. 30 at home, their lone matchup in the regular season.

"Stillman is as talented as any team in the league," Ireland said. "They're really well-coached and overall just a solid team."

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