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SAGU shot down by Williams' 8 three-pointers

GIVING PROPS TO SENIORS: Head Coach Arlon Beadles (left) and Jacob Rodriguez (right) honor senior foursome of Heather Jefferson, Rachel Harris, Chelsea Jones and Stephanie Hawkins. Photo available at GoddingGallery.SmugMug.com.WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Southwestern Assemblies of God University, with three senior players scoring in double figures, were no match for a Jarvis Christian College team that was clearly hungrier. The visiting Lady Bulldogs rolled to a 68-63 triumph that wasn't that close.

SAGU's effective zone defense was under siege from the opening tip. Kryptonite to the zone is a team that can shoot over it. Jarvis, with three capable players, struck the jackpot on Monday. They lit up Southwestern with a dozen three-pointers and led by 16 points on three different occasions.

Jarvis, losers of six of their previous eight games, desperately needed a win to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for a berth in the Red River Athletic Conference tournament. They played with desire and energy while Team Lioness was cold, appeared flat and was careless with the ball.

The win lifted the Lady Bulldogs overall record to 9-12 and their conference mark to 5-11. They are in a virtual tie with University of the Southwest for ninth place. SAGU (18-8, 13-5) fell out of second place when Texas Wesleyan (21-4, 13-4) thumped LSU-Shreveport (14-10, 11-7) by a 60-49 count.

It was the Lady Lions second loss in three games and fifth in nine outings. The setback came on Senior Night, and finished the team's home schedule. The Cats went 7-4 in the Sheaffer Center in RRAC games and were 11-5 in all home matches. That's more than the previous two years combined. SAGU posted a 12-2 home record last season after an 11-2 effort in 2008-09.

First Half Recap: THRILLiams on Fire

JEFFERSON STARSHIP IN TURBULANCE: Heather Jefferson (14) muscles a shot over Mardray Wynn (50) on Monday. Photo by Gina Godding.While the Lady Lions had a turnover and missed three of their first four shots, Jarvis jumped to a quick lead they would never lose. Ramethia Buford converted the turnover into a layup, then drained a three-pointer when Daronica Williams found her open on the wing. Moments later Williams connected with Dee Love, who stroked a triple for an 8-2 advantage. The Dogs were just getting warmed up.

Meanwhile the Purple Pride hit on just one of their next six tries and turned the ball over four more times as Jarvis benefitted to the tune of a 17-6 lead.

Williams, a 5'8 junior guard, joined Buford and Love by finding her groove beyond the arc. Taking advantage a size mismatch on the perimeter, she began launching trifectas from the left side. She nailed one. Then, moments later, found the bottom of the bucket on four consecutive sequels.

By halftime she had tied her season high, canning seven of twelve tries, powering Jarvis to a 39-25 upperhand. Her sixth trey gave the Canine Cagers a 36-20 lead with 3:04 to go.

Jarvis dominated the boards as well, 24-13. They had ten offensive rebounds by intermission, capitalizing on the absence of SAGU's Gabby Bruner (Peaster, Tx / Peaster HS), who was out with a sprained ankle.

Second Half Review: Rally Cut Short

The second frame saw the Lions fight to stay in the game, then struggle as they staged a comeback.

Southwestern regrouped to grab a 24-14 edge in rebounds. The squad sliced their deficit to eight, then turned the ball on three straight possessions before Williams fired her eighth trey. The Bulldogs were on top, 46-35 (13:35 left).

Arielle Wilks, a 5-foot-8 junior forward, came off the bench to give Head Coach Elissia Burwell a huge lift when two starters got in foul trouble. She tossed in nine of her eleven points in the second half, and ripped down nine caroms. She has averaged over seven rebounds per game since joining the team in January.

Stephanie Hawkins (DeSoto, Tx / DeSoto HS) assisted a 3-ball by Rachel Harris (Joshua, Tx / Bethesda Christian) and Jirah Rodriguez (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS) scored inside, pulling SAGU to within 48-40 (11:13). As they would do several times down the stretch, the Lions couldn't extend their good fortune with shots in the clutch.

They missed their next three shots and made a turnover. Jarvis responded. Love passed to Buford on the side for a huge three-pointer. Then, after a steal by Wilks, Buford returned the favor by assisting on a long-distance call by Love. The "hot" Dogs were sizzling at 56-40 (9:02).

SAGU wouldn't go away. Hawkins set up a triple by Harris and a Heather Jefferson (Conroe, Tx / Conroe HS) transition layup, then stole the ball from Buford and went the distance, reducing their debt to 56-47 (7:17).

Again, the Blue Barkers countered. Jessica King sank a pair of free throws, then tallied on one of five Mardray Wynn assists for a 60-47 bulge.

In the final six minutes the Lions would attack the Jarvis lead, forcing mistakes, and creating a number of opportunities to catch the Hawkins Hounds. Each time they couldn't knock down the "money shot" to subdue their captors. SAGU made 4-of-11 shots down the stretch, committed two unforced turnovers, and missed four free throws, including the front end of a one-and-one. Four times they were off the mark on bids for a three.

When Williams converted two foul shots and Wilks cashed in a pass from King, Jarvis appeared in command, 67-55, with only 0:36 to go. Hawkins stroked a jumper in the paint, then Jefferson split a pair on the charity stripe after Jarvis missed the front end of a bonus. 67-58, 0:24.

Following a rushed shot by Buford, Jefferson rebounded and lasered a pass to Hawkins. She hit a pull-up, three-point dagger with nine seconds showing. The Lady Lions trailed by six.

Chelsea Jones (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian), who was playing in spite of being under the weather, stole the inbounds pass, turned and triggered a three-ball from the wing. It rimmed out. Jefferson rebounded, was fouled, and popped a pair of foul shots with two seconds showing.

SAGU would get no closer than 67-63, capping a furious 23-11 rally.

Player Totals

Williams led all scorers with a season-high 26 points. It was her tenth double-figure performance of the season. She made 8-of-15 from beyond the arc. Jarvis was good on 12 triples, as Love and Buford added two apiece.

Southwestern was led by Jones. She scored 12 of her team-high 17 points in the first half. Running on fumes, she was 1-of-10 after intermission. The RRAC leader in steals made four more. Jefferson bucketed 16 points, swishing four-of-seven shots and 8-of-15 FT's. It was her second best game of the season and twelfth in double-digits. She led the squad with nine boards.

Hawkins finished with 12 points and six assists. Rodriguez tossed in eight points, Harris six and Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS). The Lions played only six players.

Team Totes

Jarvis outshot Southwestern, 42% to 36% from the field, including 12-of-30 three-point tries (40%). SAGU hit 6-of-23 (26%). JCC was good on ten of thirteen foul shots, SAGU 15-of-24. Each team had 38 rebounds. The Bulldogs made more turnovers, 23-20.

The teams split their two games this season. The Lady Lions escaped with a 60-59 victory in Hawkins on January 10. Jarvis has four of their final six league games at home, where they are 3-5 to date.

Final four games away from home

The Purple Pride is on the road for their final four contests. They will be in Austin, Texas on Saturday for a 4:00pm matinee against Huston-Tillotson (8-16, 7-10). Then comes a pair of tilts that could prove critical as SAGU jockeys for playoff positions.

Next Monday, February 21, they will face the fourth place club, Our Lady of the Lake University (16-8, 12-6). The game will be streamed live on OLLU TV. Four-time defending champion Langston University (21-4, 16-1) hosts SAGU on Saturday, Feb. 26. They own a three game lead with five conference games remaining.

The Lions will conclude the regular season on Monday, Feb. 28, at Bacone College (15-7, 9-7). They could finish as high as second place, where they trail Wesleyan by one game, or drop as low as seventh. SAGU is just two games ahead of sixth place Bacone.

An encouraging note is team's 6-1 road record in league action.

NAIA National Coaches Poll

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics announced the results of their weekly Coaches Poll on Monday afternoon. Southwestern's recent slide dropped them out of the national rankings after being ranked as high as #31. SAGU has been ranked #7 in the most recent National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA - Division I) Burbridge ratings.

The Langston Lady Lions climbed to #14 and have won 15 in a row. Texas Wesleyan reappeared in the ratings at #37.