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SAGU will face Bacone Again on Thursday

UP TO THE TASK:  Chelsea Jones shoots against Bacone.  Photo available at GoddingGallery.SmugMug.comMUSKOGEE, Oklahoma -- With the outcome on Monday night's regular season finale hanging in the balance, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University women's basketball team seized control and wrote their own 71-65 happy ending over Bacone College.

The second half of their clash with the Lady Warriors saw the teams take turns with the lead. Things were as tight as the lid on a jar of honey. That's when the Lady Lions' defense stood tall while their offense refused to stall.

The backbone of the team, their defense, forced three consecutive turnovers. Then the offense cashed in with a few easy buckets and began finding the range with their mid-range jumpshots. What was a one-point Lady Warriors lead had become a 10-point SAGU advantage, a lead they would never surrender.

In sweeping the season series from Bacone, the Lady Lions wrapped up a fourth place finish in the Red River Athletic Conference with the team's third straight 20-win campaign. SAGU is now 20-10 overall and own a 15-7 mark in the RRAC.

The Warriors, coached by former Southwestern graduate and Lady Lions head coach, Robbie Shay, are 19-9 and 13-9, giving them fifth place. A year ago the Tribe settled in next to last place when they lost 10-of-their-last-12 games during an 11-18 season.

Thursday RRAC Tournament Rematch

On Thursday, March 3, the two teams will meet again in the quarterfinals of the annual Red River Conference tournament. The game will be played 3:00pm at the Frank W. Solis Gymnasium, the home of Waxahachie High School. Should SAGU win they would advance to play the winner of the Langston University (25-5) vs. University of the Southwest (8-20) game on Friday at 1:00pm.

The women's championship game this year gets the primetime, 8pm game. The top two seeds are Langston, who has won five consecutive RRAC titles, and a very talented Texas Wesleyan (26-4) team that routed LU two weeks ago, 89-64.

Monday Game Summary

SMILING EYES:  Senior Heather Jefferson.  Photo by Gina GoddingSouthwestern and Bacone battled evenly in several major areas on the court, primarily shooting and rebounding. The Lady Warriors held a marginal edge on the boards, 33-32, and both teams connected on timely three-point baskets. SAGU mad 7-of-10 tries while Bacone hit eight treys, though it took 31 shots to get them.

Both clubs made their share of giveaways, with the Lady Lions coughing it up 23 times to the Warriors'18. Bacone, however, only turned those extra possessions into 13 points.

The Purple Pride took a 32-28 lead into the locker room at the half by limiting Bacone to just 21% accuracy (7-of-33), while knocking down 42% of their 19 shots. Lady Lion mistakes gave the hosts 14 more shots, but they were unable to parlay them into points.

Adjustments were made during recess by both sides, and the Lady Warriors began to heat up. They were true on 15-of-28 attempts for a sizzling 54% after intermission. SAGU, however, countered by finding the bottom of the cup on 11-of-21 shots (52%), including 6-of-7 triples over the final twenty minutes.

The most glaring stat-line was efficiency at the charity stripe, where SAGU drained 26-of-29 free throws (90%). Bacone was a pedestrian-like 13-of-20 (65%).

Cat Stats:  Sweet 16

SAGU featured an offensive scheme that spread the ball and the shots around, with no one taking more than nine shots. In the end it was freshman Jirah Rodriguez (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS), and seniors Chelsea Jones (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian) and Heather Jefferson (Conroe, Tx / Conroe HS) who epitomized a balanced attack. Each accounted for 16 points.

The trio combined to make 15-of-17 free throws. From the field Rodriguez hit 5-of-7 shots, Jones was 4-of-9 and Jefferson was good on 5-of-9.

Stephanie Hawkins (DeSoto, Tx / DeSoto HS) added nine points, while Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS) and Rachel Harris (Joshua, Tx / Bethesda Christian) had six apiece. Gabby Bruner (Peaster, Tx / Peaster HS) tossed in the final two points. In rebounds, Jones and Hankins had seven and six respectively.

The 'Three' Bucketeers

The three-point shot was tres magnifique on Monday. Rodriguez tried three. All tickled the twine. Harris launched a pair. Both hit nothing but nylon. And Jones, who led the nation in three-point accuracy last year, stroked four with two ripping the nets.

Bacone's dynamic duo in the backcourt of Michelle Simmons and Noelani Gi (prounced like Jee) were impressive, scoring 27 and 17 points. The rest of their team, however, made only six-of-26 shots.

The two teams played a very similar game in their prior meeting, a 71-68 Southwestern triumph. It was the sixth consecutive win in the series for SAGU. Their next encounter will be for much higher stakes.

Perhaps the Lady Lions will write another winning finish, like Jack Welch's "Control your own destiny or someone else will."

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