Lady Lions No Match for Our Lady
Slide Continues, SAGU Falls to Fourth
SAN ANTONIO, Texas --Despite placing four players in double-figures, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University women's basketball team were no match for a red-hot Our Lady of the Lake University team. The Lady Saints rolled to an impressive 86-71 victory to complete a two-game sweep this season.
OLLU (18-8, 14-6 RRAC) is now tie with Southwestern (19-9, 14-6) for third in the Red River Athletic Conference. Based on their mastery over the Purple Pride this season, the Blue Halos win the tie-breaker should the teams finish deadlocked.
The Lady Lions, who were once 13-3 overall and 8-0 in the RRAC, have gone 6-6 and are out of contention for the regular season title. After back-to-back overtime home losses to Langston and Bacone College, OLLU has rolled to an 11-3 mark. They are the only team in the league to score 70 or more points against SAGU, and have now done it twice.
Their ability to get hot from beyond the arc again exposed the Achilles heel of the Lady Lions' zone defense. The Saints drilled a season-high 18 three-point baskets in an 82-61 win on January 17.
On Monday night in the Mabee Center, they heated up once more. Taking more shots from downtown (42) than from two-point range (31), the Saints connected on 15 (36%), almost doubling their season average of eight treys per game. By comparison, Southwestern could make just 5-of-18 (28%).
Five-foot-six sophomore guard Stacey Darnley scored a game-high 23 points; featuring seven three balls, pacing the hosts to their eighth win in eleven home, league games. SAGU fell to 7-2 on the road.
Our Lady got off to a great start, and Team Lioness could never catch up. Their first 10 shots were from long distance. When Darnley fired back-to-back triples the Saints had swished 7-of-12 threes for a 21-5 lead they would never relinquish. They were as hot as a four-alarm fire!
SAGU senior Rachel Harris (Joshua, Tx / Bethesda Christian) tossed in seven straight, including a 3-ball of her own, and the Lady Lions were within nine at 12:15. After a Saints turnover, Stephanie Hawkins (DeSoto, Tx / DeSoto HS) found Jirah Rodriguez (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS) inside, and Hawkeye assisted Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS) on a power layup, cutting the deficit to 27-19 (9:37).
Throughout the half the Saints took advantage of their opportunities to score by knocking down big shots while the Lady Lions missed a number of shots after forcing an OLLU turnover, or failed to make consecutive free throws. SAGU leads the league in free throw shooting.
Down 45-23, Hankins tallied from close-in, and Chelsea Jones (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian) sank a pair from the foul line. After Heather Jefferson (Conroe, Tx / Conroe HS) set up a Hawkins basket with a steal, Jones pumped a 3-bomb thanks to a feed from the Hawk. SAGU trailed, 45-32.
Two technical fouls called on SAGU resulted in four FT's. Then a pair of trifectas by Darnley and senior Krystal Manning led to a 55-32 lead before the 'heavenly hosts' held the halftime upper-hand, 57-36. SAGU's defense, allowing only 57 points for an entire game, had been hit for that number already, and were scrambling.
Second Half Recap
The Lions scored six of the first eight points after the break, but never seriously threatened. A three by Jones and an offensive putback by Rodriguez drew the Lions to within 69-52. SAGU made adjustments to temper the barrage of bombshells by the Blue Wings, but could only outscore them 35-29 in the second stanza.
Darnley added a pair of triples on assists from Manning and Kenisha McDade and Jasmine Fuller had three timely field goals to keep the Lions at bay.
Memorable plays down the stretch for Team Purp were supplied by Hawkins. She ripped down a defensive carom and went coast-to-coast for a deuce and her helping passes enabled Harris to net consecutive triples. She also fed Jefferson inside for points in the paint at the 5:28 mark, when SAGU trailed 77-60. Drea Lugo (San Antonio, Tx / Somerset HS) assisted Jefferson for a late bucket to pull the Lions to within 15.
Jones was tops in points for SAGU, with 16. She managed to get only seven shots, making three. She canned 8-of-11 free throws. Hankins did most of her damage in the first half, finishing with 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting. She laid claim to nine boards.
Harris registered 13 points. The 5'3 senior was 4-of-12 and nailed a trio of threes. The shortest player on the floor had a season-high six rebounds! Must've been the pink shoelaces.
Jefferson totaled 11 and had five boards. Hawkins accounted for seven points and a season-high eight assists. Rodriguez and Gabby Bruner (Peaster, Tx / Peaster HS) had six and five points respectively.
SAGU outrebounded the Saints, 49-47, and had one less turnover, 18-17. The team's strong play inside and the Saints determined effort to defend Lady Lions shooters on the edge was party the reason for OLLU drawing a 27-17 disadvantage in team fouls.
Of particular negative impact were the number of free throws missed by the Lions, who made just 22-of-36 tries.
Saturday: Clash of the Lady Lions
Southwestern has two games remaining in the regular season. The expected showdown between Langston University (22-5, 17-2) and SAGU has lost its luster with the Lady Lions health issues and recent struggles. The two will play this Saturday in Langston, Oklahoma at 5:30pm. They have finished 1-2 the past two years, with the squads splitting their four games. LU is the four-time defending league champions.
Langston was thumped at Texas Wesleyan (24-4, 16-4) on Monday, 89-64, so they will be looking to bounce back. Langston has three home games on tap, including a home tilt Wednesday against Jarvis Christian (9-14, 5-13).
SAGU will be in Muskogee, Oklahoma on Monday to face Bacone College (17-8, 11-8). The Lady Warriors also wrap up their season with three home matches. BC can still finish as high as third with a strong push.
RRAC Tournament: Teams Jockey for Position
If the season were to end today, Southwestern would take on the fifth place LSU-Shreveport (15-11, 12-8) Lady Pilots in the first round of the RRAC tournament on Thursday, March 3. The first round will be played at Waxahachie High School's Frank Solis Gymnasium. If SAGU were to win their first two tournament games, they would again qualify for a berth in the NAIA national tournament, provided they face Langston in the finals.
The Lions have an option of entering the National Christian College Athletic Association's Central Regional in March, following the RRAC tourney.