NAIA's No. 5 ranked defense not enough for SAGU
Lady Lions basketball falls at NCCAA Regionals
Winston, Roberts, Hankins, Lugo close hoops careers
Returning players, recruits seek to continue team's ascent
NCCAA Women’s/Men’s Nationals: http://gclancers.com/sports/2013/5/17/NCCAA.aspx
Final Player Stats (access below)
EDMOND, Oklahoma -- A promising start and a lead with eight minutes left in the half weren’t enough as the Southwestern Assemblies of God University women’s basketball fell, 72-44, to Oklahoma Christian University (NCAA D II).
The semifinal at the National Christian College Athletic Association’s Central Regional ended the season for the Lady Lions.
OCU (17-11) followed with an 83-73 triumph over Mid-America Christian University to advance to the eight-team NCCAA Nationals in Indiana next week.
The Lady Evangels (18-14) reached the final by ousting Colorado Christian University (NCAA D II) (15-13 record), 78-71.
SAGU (14-18) began the game with sophomore Taylor Hill (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) and senior Nia Winston (Garland, Tx / Lakeview Centennial HS, Panola College) knocking down jumpers for a 4-0 lead.
Trailing 12-9 the Lady Lions netted three more shots from the outside to gain their final lead, 18-17, with 8:13 remaining.
Winston swished the first after an OCU turnover. Freshman forward Laken Ward (Cleveland, Ark / Wonderview HS) assisted on back-to-back jacks, threes from junior Jirah Rodriguez (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS) and freshman Monica Dorsey (Garland, Tx / Sachse HS)
The team struggled the rest of the half, making 2-of-10 shots and committing six turnovers to trail, 33-23, at intermission.
While Team Purple could never draw closer than 10 in the second half. To their credit, they fought to stay within that margin for the first eight minutes.
Baskets by Hill (Score: 35-25) on another Ward assist; Dorsey cashed in a steal (42-32); a putback from senior Shaquita Roberts (San Antonio, Tx / Byron Steele HS) (44-34) and driving layup by Rodriguez (46-36) revealed 'no quit' from this unit.
The perimeter well, however, would go dry. Missing five consecutive jump shots led to an 11-0 Eagles surge to build a commanding 57-36 lead with 8:51 to play.
Hill aided a Winston three-ball (57-40), but the Eagles outlasted SAGU down the stretch.
OCU’s ability to keep the Lions out of the paint was evidenced by their 53-32 dominance on the boards, including a 22-10 mastery on the offensive glass.
Team Lioness did limit the Eagles to 35% shooting with their trademark zone defense.
SAGU finished the year with the No. 5 ranked defense in the NAIA, allowing their foes to convert just a .348 percentage of their shots. Overall they surrendered just 61 points per game, again ranking in the Top 20.
The team’s Achilles heel was an offense that shot .368 from the floor, which was 81st of 102 teams. Eighteen turnovers a game hurt, with every player making more than they did assists.
The season did usher in a good crop of freshmen, with two guards and a pair of forwards to help build a nucleus for next fall.
Head Coach Arlon Beadles bid farewell to four seniors, all of them seeing action in the game.
Winston and Roberts were outstanding after missing last season, while Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS) and Andrea Lugo (San Antonio, Tx / Somerset HS) contributed during their careers.
Winston and Hill accounted for 14 and 10 points against Oklahoma Christian, a team that SAGU has split with over the past five seasons. The Lions conceded only one Eagles player to reach double-figures, Logan McKee, and she had 12.
Roberts grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds and blocked five shots. Her 77 rejections this season ranks sixth nationally. Winston’s 604 points were 11th best in the NAIA.
Freshman forward Charity Page (Nacogdoches, Tx / Nacogdoches HS) chipped in with six points and four boards.
Hill and Rodriguez will key what could be an improved team next season. Coupled with developed returners and enhanced with new recruits, SAGU looks to continue their rise.
Upgraded forwards Ward and Page may elevate the entire team.
In their first year in the rugged Sooner Athletic Conference the Lady Lions went 8-12 against league foes. They upgraded from 9-21 the season before to post a 14-16 regular season mark.
SAGU won four of five games decided by nine points or less until the last week of the season. That is when the team endured successive one-point, heartbreaking losses.
The off-season begins now.
Box Score and Play-by-Play vs. OCU: http://www.dakstats.com/WebSync/Pages/Team/TeamSchedule.aspx?association=10&sg=WBB&sea=NAIWBB_2013&team=299
Click on the underlined score for the box score, or the split blue box icon on the right for the accounts of the game.