Jones, Hawkins, Jefferson, Harris pace SAGU

WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- It wasn't Senior Night in the Sheaffer Center. It just felt that way. The women's basketball team at Southwestern Assemblies of God University, led by their four seniors, held off a determined Wiley College squad and posted a 69-52 triumph on Saturday.

The win improved the Lady Lions record to 17-6 for the season. They are currently 12-3 in the Red River Athletic Conference, a half-game ahead of Texas Wesleyan University. The Rams were idle. Four-time defending champion Langston University sits atop the league at 18-4 and 13-1.

Battling for a berth in next month's conference tournament, Wiley fell to 7-15 and 4-11. In dropping their fourth consecutive game, the Wildcats chances at post-season are looking slim. Their next five games are on the road.

Along Came Jones

All-American forward Chelsea Jones (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian) had another standout performance. In producing her fourth double-double of the season, she scored 18 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and made six steals. But she had to work for it.

The Wildcats, who held their own throughout much of the game, also held Jones to just 10 shots. Against several aggressive defenders, the senior forward converted 11-of-12 free throws, had several assists and committed a lone turnover.

Jones has reached double-figures in all 23 games this season while averaging just 12.5 shots per outing. She averages 17.1 points per game, which ranks her third in the RRAC.

Missing In Action

Southwestern had to overcome playing without two starters for nearly half the game. Senior guard Stephanie Hawkins (DeSoto, Tx / DeSoto HS) played only eight minutes in the first half after picking up three quick, ticky-tack fouls. Plus, center Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS) hobbled off the court with a leg injury that shelved her for the rest of the game.

The Lions labored through a juggled line-up and an inspired Wildcats rally until the middle of the second half. That’s when Hawkins asserted herself with twelve points as SAGU put the game away.

Gabby Bruner (Peaster, Tx / Peaster HS) triggered a fastbreak with a rebound and outlet pass that Hawkins turned into a three-point play with six minutes remaining. When Heather Jefferson (Conroe, Tx / Conroe HS), another senior, knifed inside for a lay-in, the Lady Lions led 55-45. Hawkins, who was scoreless in first half, scored six of her 12 points during the 10-3 run.

The Hawk assisted a bucket by Jefferson, which lifted SAGU’s lead to 61-49, then found Bruner inside for her fifth helper. She tacked on a score and a pair of foul shots to extend Southwestern’s lead to 18 in the closing minutes. Jefferson ended up with 11 points and six rebounds.

Key Contributors: Harris, Bruner

Perhaps the most significant influence on Saturday came from senior guard Rachel Harris (Joshua, Tx / Bethesda Christian) and Bruner, a junior forward. Harris went all-out during 20+ minutes off the bench. A very capable ballhandler and long-range scoring threat, she tossed in five points and helped run the offense in Hawkins’ absence. 

Bruner, the team’s blue collar workhand, brought her gloves, boots and lunch pail. She made six of eight shots, scored 13 points and seized seven boards in her best effort in weeks. She hadn’t reached double figures in the previous twelve games. To be fair, she has battled through several lingering injuries.

Jirah Rodriguez (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS), and offensive minded freshman forward, added six points. She had two boards and a pair of assists in 27 minutes.

Coach Arlon Beadles was able to play everyone, with MacKenzie McDowell (Ft. Worth, Tx / Calvary Christian) and Andrea Lugo (San Antonio, Tx / Somerset HS) playing parts of both halves. Megan Wilson (Ft. Defiance, Az / Navajo Pine HS) got into the action as well.

Up-and-Coming 'Cats

Wiley was led by point guard Christina Kincade’s 17 points and six boards. The speed-merchant never left the floor nor stopped harassing Lion guards. Kyniddia (kin YAH dah) Purdy netted 10 points and doubled as Chelsea Jones’ personal shadow. Both guards had a pair of steals.

Kiari Siggers and Carolyn Harris, two of coach Janet Eaton’s eight freshmen, were key contributors with six points apiece. The Wildcats cashed in a half dozen buckets on harefooted dashes that featured talented finishers. It was their inconsistent perimeter game, coupled with 17 turnovers by starters that hamstrung their attack.

Southwestern’s notorious zone defense was steady as ever. The only team in the RRAC to play it exclusively, the zone denied consistent access to the paint and extorted 24 turnovers from the Wildcats.

Monday - Lady Lions in the Pelican State

The Lady Lions will hit the road on Monday, February 7, when they travel to play LSU-Shreveport at 5:30pm. The Lady Pilots are in fifth place at 12-9 overall and 9-6 in the Red River. They rolled past Paul Quinn College, 80-62, on Saturday.

In their first meeting in December, the Lady Lions exploded for a 45-28 halftime lead before holding off the Pilots, 72-69. SAGU led 67-47 with 5:11 to play before they appeared to check out too early. Jones and Hawkins scored 20 and 18 points respectively. Hankins came off the bench for 11 points and five boards.

SAGU made 11 three-pointers and LSUS fired in ten during the display of offensive fireworks. The Pilots dominated the boards, 36-23, but missed half of their 22 free throws and turned the ball over 22 times.

Coming Attractions

Southwestern has two home games remaining. Next Saturday, Feb. 12, they play host to Texas College (15-7, 7-7) at 5:30pm. The game will be highlighted as a Coaches versus Cancer event to benefit the fight against breast cancer. Fans are encouraged to make a donation.

They entertain Jarvis Christian College (7-12, 3-11) on Valentine’s Day, Monday, Feb. 14. Coach Beadles will spotlight his Quad Squad of seniors that evening.