Winston, Cox lead SAGU to victory
Fourth win in last six games
Second half execution sparks 64-57 win over Bacone
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Sophomore shooting guard Jirah Rodriguez (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS) knocked down a three-pointer thanks to an assist from Okevia Bratchett (Center, Tx / Tenaha HS) that broke a 42-42 tie, sending Southwestern Assemblies of God University to a 64-57 triumph over Bacone College on Thursday night.
Bratchett, whose entry into the game was a key reason the Lady Lions were able to crack the Bacone press, was cited by Head Coach Arlon Beadles afterwards for her contribution in the clutch. When she navigated through a labyrinth of defenders, finishing with a dashing layup, SAGU led 57-48 with 3:22 remaining.
The team won their second straight and fourth-in-six games in which they have risen from 13th (last) in the Red River Athletic Conference into a three-way tie for 8th. They continue to make progress since their 10-game losing streak ended weeks ago.
SAGU is now 7-12 overall and 4-9 in the RRAC. Bacone, who edged the Lions, 46-44, in Muskogee, Oklahoma in December, slipped to 8-10 and 4-9.
Showing headway from their hard work in practice, Team Lioness took better of the ball and staved off the Lady Warriors bid to rally by making 18 of 20 second-half free throws.
“The difference in the game tonight,” Coach Beadles pointed out, “was the play of our interior. We were physical inside and we got rebounds when we needed them.”
For sure. Playing sans Gabby Bruner (Peaster, Tx / Peaster HS), who sat out another game since the controversial concussion she received on a highly questionable official’s call a week ago, the Lady Lions again turned to freshman Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS).
She came through for the second game in as many tries. Cox matched her 17 rebound performance on Monday night in Houston with a ditto deed; 17 boards, six coming on the offensive glass. She scored 10 points and blocked a pair of shots before fouling out in the final minute.
By moving Cox to center, SAGU could switch the more agile Shaquita Roberts (San Antonio, Tx / Byron Steele HS) to forward. She converted 6-of-13 shots and bucketed 15-points while reeling in seven caroms and rejecting a shot. Roberts also drew her fifth foul in the closing minute.
The offensive horse the Lions hooked their wagon up to was Nia Winston (Garland, Tx / Panola JuCo, Lakeview Centennial HS). The sophomore’s effort was steady throughout, but it wasn’t until after halftime that she turned on the jets.
Held to two points on 1-of-10 shooting at the half, she recoiled with an inspired second stanza. Winston netted four of eight from the field, including three triples, and drained 11-of-12 foul shots in a 24-point, season-best, exhibition.
Winston smoked the Warriors with her fifteenth double-digit game this season, topping the 20 she poured in against Crowley’s Ridge College (Ark).
“Had we taken advantage of the good looks and scoring chances we had early,” said Robbie Shay, Bacone’s Head Coach, “we could’ve buried them. But they battled back. Winston really hurt us in the second half.”
“We had a few opportunities in the final minutes, but couldn’t get key shots to fall,” he concluded.
Bacone jumped to a 7-0 lead and were still leading by seven, 21-14, with 3:27 left in the half. Roberts and Winston powered in baskets while the defense tightened its zone and the Warriors didn’t score again in the half. They had six field goals in 26 tries for 23% at intermission.
It had to feel very much the same as their first meeting when Bacone managed to net only 12 baskets the entire game, but eked out a win by sinking 20 free throws at home.
Coach Shay, who played and graduated from SAGU (he still owns the Lions scoring record of 50 points in a game) had his Warriors apply vice-grips to the young Lions backcourt. But Team Purp is coping much better than had before.
“We tried to speed them up,” Shay admitted. “But with all that pressure, they only had 21 turnovers.”
Winston played the entire 40 minutes and coughed it up just twice. Tina Brown (New Braunfels, Tx / Lifegate Christian) started at guard and failed a single give-away.
Two Winston treys ignited a 12-4 run for a 30-28 lead with 15:52 to play. Cox, positioned like an anchor on the Mayflower, grabbed a missed three-ball by Cordia Harvatin (San Antonio, Tx / Stacey HS) and muscled in a putback as the Lions went up 36-33.
After falling behind (36-37) on a Danielle Jackson hoop, the Lions surged ahead on another offensive stickback, this one from Roberts (38-37, 10:43 to play). That set the stage for the trifecta by Rodriguez that lifted the Lions into the forefront to stay with 8:51 on the Sheaffer Center clock.
Rodriguez bagged a pair from the charity stripe and Winston parlayed a steal into another two foul shots before the two teamed up for a crucial long ball at the 5:21 mark. Rodriguez dished a dime that Winston cashed for a trey and a 54-45 margin.
Bratchett’s weaving deuce kept the lead at nine, 57-48, and the Warriors would draw no closer than five the rest of the way.
Roberts stroked two from the line and capitalized on a Bacone turnover to sustain the upper-hand at 61-54 with 1:38 to go.
Southwestern made 12 of their 24 second half shots to finish the game at 37%. After battling to score 18 in the first half, Southwestern erupted for 46 in the second. They limited the Lady Warriors to 27% and only 15% beyond the arc (3 of 19). The teams fought to a virtual deadlock on the boards, where SAGU had a 36-35 edge.
Jackson led BC with 15 points. She was supported by Noelani Gi and Emily Lovell, who were credited with 13 and 12 points respectively. Myriah Hadnot grabbed nine boards for the Tribe.
On Deck: Home Game vs. Tillotson
SAGU will host Huston-Tillotson University (4-14, 4-10 in RRAC) on Monday night at 5:30pm. The Lady Rams won the first encounter by rallying from behind in the last two minutes to steal a 68-62 win in Austin. They have dropped seven in a row, though four of them were single-digit defeats.
The game will be broadcast in High Definition by SAGU SPORTS Live (go to SAGU TV) as well as webcasted by Live Stats.