Athletic News

Southwestern now 15-5 after 71-50 triumph

DIFFERENCE MAKER:  Sierra Hankins retrieves rebound during Thursday night's game. Gina Godding photo. Chelsea Jones (24), Jirah Rodriguez (22) observe.WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- By parlaying a 15-3 run midway through the second half, the women's basketball team at Southwestern Assemblies of God University was able to defeat an upstart Paul Quinn College team, 71-50. The Lady Tigers drew to within 42-41 before Southwestern buckled down and broke the game open.

SAGU had defeated them by a 69-39 count earlier in the season.

When the Tigers pieced together a hot run in the middle of the second half, mostly on the inspired play of Mia Brooks and three triples by Terri Warnesly, they had reduced a 13-point deficit to trail by one. From there the host Purple Pride arose.

Stephanie Hawkins (DeSoto, Tx / DeSoto HS) scored consecutive baskets on quick drives to the rack, scoring once on a fade-away layup to the right. She also created an opening with a stepback three-pointer as SAGU began to pull away at 46-40. She also led with five assists and five boards.

Passing with Flying Colors

Perhaps the most memorable pass came moments later in the second half. Jirah Rodriguez (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS), holding the ball overhead from the left corner of the baseline, looked right, then threaded the needle to Chelsea Jones (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian). She had cut past a screen on the far side and caught Rodriguez's pass in stride for a layup and a 50-42 advantage. Two free throws by Hawkins extended the lead to 59-44 with 4:10 to play.

High Sierra

DRIVING HER POINT HOME: Chelsea Jones drives for a layup vs. Paul Quinn. She has reached double figures in all twenty games this season. Gina Godding photo.  Throughout the game it was freshman center Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS) who starred. With increased minutes the developing post player with a shooters touch hit from the baseline, the elbow, and an assortment of layups and short jumpers. A skilled passer, she contributed two assists. Her second was a sweet dish to back-up point guard Andrea Lugo (San Antonio, Tx / Somerset HS).

Since being inserted into the starting line-up three games ago, Hankins is averaging 12.0 points per game while bagging nine boards in each contest. The neophytic post player has seen her scoring average increase to 5.85 and her collection of caroms rise to 5.45. She is making 54% of her shots and, in tickling the twine in 19-of-24 free throws, she is connecting 79% at the solo stripe line. In fact, she has made 15-of-16 in recent weeks.

The triumph lifted the Lady Lions to 15-5 in all games and 10-2 in the Red River Athletic Conference. They remain one game behind Langston University (16-4, 11-1), who defeated Bacone College (13-5, 7-5), 80-66.

Player Totals:  'Hanks' a lot!

Hankins accounted for 18 points and pulled down nine rebounds to star for SAGU. Chelsea Jones (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian) and Stephanie Hawkins (DeSoto, Tx / DeSoto HS) added 18 points and 15 points respectively for head coach Arlon Beadles' team.

Heather Jefferson (Conroe, Tx / Conroe HS) and Jirah Rodriguez (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS) each totaled six points. Gabby Bruner (Peaster, Tx / Peaster HS) and Jones each ripped down eight boards, combining with Hankins to out-board the Tigers by a 44-35 count. Bruner, who has been battling a leg injury, also blocked two shots and made three steals.

The Lady Lions were able to get six reserves into the action, combining for fifty minutes of playing time.

Team Totes

SAGU led at the half, 33-23. In the second frame the Lady Lions shooting accuracy rose as they stroked 13-of-29 shots, good for a 45% rate. For the game they shot 41% while limiting Quinn to 31%. They made only twelve turnovers while forcing 18.

Warnesly, playing in just her third game for Paul Quinn, was their top scorer with 19 points. Keidra Stanley added 12.

On Deck for Team Lioness

The Lady Lions will play at the University of the Southwest (5-13, 3-9) on Saturday. The game in Hobbs, New Mexico is set for a 2:00pm (MST) start. It is a 365-mile jaunt for Southwestern, who will travel via the school's charter bus on Friday afternoon.

Nationwide Eyes on SAGU-TWU Monday night match

Provided SAGU can get past the Lady Mustangs on Saturday, they have a major test coming on Monday. Arch-rival Texas Wesleyan University (17-3, 9-3) visits the Sheaffer FLC on Monday, January 31 at 5:30pm. The outcome will likely determine who contends for second place behind Langston.

A year ago the two teams split, with the visiting team taking both games. Earlier this season the Lady Lions edged the Rams in Fort Worth, 59-56. Bruner hit a pair of free throws with under two seconds remaining for a 57-56 lead. Jones, who intercepted the ensuing inbounds pass, closed the game with two more from the charity stripe.

Monday's game will have a national audience as the NAIA will broadcast the SAGA SPORTS Live stream and feed it to their extended followers on the Victory Sports Network. An article on this story will be posted this weekend.

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