Lady Lions bear down, win debut 62-41
Defense holds Hillsdale to 25% shooting
Winston, Bruner and Bratchett lead in scoring
MOORE, Oklahoma -- Overcoming the commonplace first-game jitters, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University women’s basketball team applied their known constant, defense, in defeating Hillsdale College, 62-41, in their season-opener on the road.
“We played very well after we got past some first-half turnovers,” said first year Assistant Coach Ryan Russell. “We settled down by bearing down defensively.”
The Lady Lions took control of the game early in the second half, when they broke away from a 27-20 halftime lead to outscore the hosts, 35-21.
Southwestern forced 22 turnovers, many resulting in breakaway layups according to Russell. The effective Syracuse zone employed by the Purple Pride kept the Saints from taking shots they’re fond of, as Hillsdale could make only .255 of their attempts.
SAGU has placed #1, #5 and #16 in the nation in field goal percentage by opponents the past three seasons (see graph below), which speaks volumes for their zone packages.
The interior especially clamped down when the Saints, who were larger and taller than their counterparts, had 16 offensive rebounds. Overall, Hillsdale owned a 39-36 margin on the boards. It did not translate into points often enough to make a game of it for Hillsdale.
From three-point range their accuracy was even lower, connecting on 5-of-24 for .208 accuracy.
Meanwhile, Southwestern swished 48% of their shots and were 3-of-10 beyond the arc. Uncharacteristically, they netted just 9 of 21 on the charity stripe. Hillsdale was 8 of 13.
Coach Russell reported the team received good production from a number of players, saying that all but one player saw action.
Sophomore point guard Nia (Nee-ah) Winston (Garland, Tx / Panola JuCo, Lakeview Centennial HS) paced the team in points with 17. Okevia Bratchett (Center, Tx / Tenaha HS) came off the bench, adding quickness and points. Known as Keevee to teammates, she finished with 12 points.
As she did against Hillsdale last year, Gabby Bruner (Peaster, Tx / Peaster HS) donned her construction worker’s helmet, tool belt, boots and her blue-collar work ethic. The senior forward powered in 12 points and led the squad on the boards with eight. She had 11 and 10 during SAGU’s 79-49 home win over the Lady Saints.
Sophomore three-guard Jirah Rodriguez (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS) and 6-foot senior transfer center Courtney Bolding (Austin, Tx / Howard Payne Univ, Akins HS) each registered six points.
Supporting Bruner (BREW-nuhr) on the glass, were Shaquita Roberts (San Antonio, Tx / Byron Steele HS) and Rodriguez, who ripped down five boards apiece. Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS) grabbed four caroms while playing in her native state. Still, Welch is 195 miles from the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore.
Cordia Harvatin (San Antonio, Tx / Stacey HS), a 5-foot-8 freshman guard with the ability to heat-up when needed, had two points in her first collegiate game. As a member of the appropriately named Stacey HS Eagles (by Lackland Air Force Base), she soared and scored 26.8 ppg and averaged six boards during her senior prep season.
Home debut on Monday night
Southwestern returns to the court on Monday, November 7, when they welcome Dallas Christian College for a 7:00pm contest in the Sheaffer Center.
The team will host their annual SAGU Classic on November 11-12, with games against Crowley’s Ridge College (Ark) and Oklahoma Christian University.
Home games will soon be available via Livestats , a digital play-by-play of the action, including statistics. SAGU Sports Live will air all home games in High Definition beginning in January.
NAIA Defensive Field Goal Percentage
2010-11 SAGU ranked #16, limiting opponents to .363 shooting
2009-10 SAGU ranked #5, limiting the opposition to .348 accuracy
2008-09 SAGU was #1, holding opposing teams to .303 shooting
There are 116 schools in Division I of the NAIA, 144 in D-II.