Lady Lions fall late to OLLU
Saints pull away from 65-61 lead, win 80-65
Winston, Bratchett, Roberts shine during setback
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Led by a pair of guards, sophomore Nia Winston (Garland, Tx / Panola JuCo, Lakeview Centennial HS) and freshman Okevia Bratchett (Center, Tx / Tenaha HS), Southwestern Assemblies of God University gave Our Lady of the Lake University all they could handle for 33 minutes.
But the Lady Saints closed the game on a 15-2 run to post an 80-65 triumph Saturday night in the Sheaffer Center.
The win lifted Our Lady’s season ledger to 20-5 and their mark against teams from the Red River Athletic Conference to 15-4. They are in third place, two games behind Langston University (23-2, 17-2 RRAC) and LSU-Shreveport (19-6, 17-2).
Southwestern, battling for a berth in the RRAC tournament; the top eight teams qualify, remain in eighth place in the 13-team league. SAGU is 9-15 in all games and 6-11 in league play. Ten days ago they had won five of their last seven games. With Saturday’s defeat they have dropped three of four.
The Lady Lions fought tooth and nail with the favored Blue Halos, outshooting them from the field, 39% to 35% and were virtually even on the boards; OLLU had a 40-39 edge. The difference on the foul line was marginal, the Saints going 18-of-30 (60%) to SAGU’s 17-of-25 (68%).
The gap was in turnovers, where SAGU lost possession of the ball 29 times compared to the visitors’ 11. That translated into the Saints getting to fire an additional 18 shots (72 to 54).
Pivotal Play with the Game on the Line
The game was decided in the final seven minutes. Holding a precarious 65-61 lead, a focused “Azul Santos” sealed the deal with defense and timely shots.
They held SAGU without a basket over the final 7:14 (0-for-6) and squeezed them into four turnovers by double-teaming the ball in the backcourt.
Stacey Darnley appeared to ring the death knell when, after neither team could score for two and a half minutes, she fired a triple to give the San Antones’ a 68-61 margin. She added a short jumper before Chelsea Solis took a pass from Alisha Crump and launched a trey to go up 78-63 with 1:51 showing.
Darnley, a 5'6 native of Corpus Christi, has made at least one three-pointer in every game she has played this season. Only three times has she been held to one. She currently leads the RRAC by averaging 3.2 per game.
The personable guard leads the Blues with a 14 points per game average. As a freshman she scored 9.8 ppg, then elevated her norm to 14.5 as a sophomore.
First Half Review
Slow out of the gate and falling behind 15-4, the ‘Cats clawed their way back into the game.
Gabby Bruner (Peaster, Tx / Peaster HS) made a 10-foot bank shot and Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) cleaned up a missed three by Jirah Rodriguez (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS) with a stickback to cap a 19-5 run for a 23-20 lead with 8:47 left in the half.
Team Purp still had the lead, 30-29, when Rodriguez ripped the nets from deep in the corner on a feed from Winston with 5:54 to go.
As they did down the stretch in the second half, OLLU stormed into the locker room with a 45-37 advantage. During their closing 16-7 run, the Saints forced SAGU into 2-of-8 shooting and seven turnovers.
Southwestern had no answer for the junior guard, Darnley. She poured in 23-points by recess, connecting on 7-of-10 shots, all beyond the arc.
Winston, though, was as hot as a half-chewed jalapeno. The former Centennial star knocked down 6-of-11 for 15-points in the opening stanza.
Second Half Rewind
A patient OLLU squad controlled the ball, the clock and the lead in extending their lead to 65-52 with 8:48 showing on the clock.
An inspired Lady Lions team struck again. Winston triggered a 3-bomb after a dish from Rodriguez. Then Winston spotted Shaquita Roberts (San Antonio, Tx / Byron Steele HS) on the low block, where she spun to the rack, was fouled and finished an old-fashioned three-point play at 7:49.
Moments later Shaq zipped a dart to Rodriguez, who was wide open in the crook. Her trifecta hit nothing but nylon, forcing a time-out by OLLU coach Rusty Kennedy. His team hadn’t been able to put away the die-hard Lions, who were within 65-61 after nine unanswered points.
Winston finished a solid floor game with 26-points. She hit on 8-of-18 shots, three out of nine from long distance, as well as 7-of-9 free throws. She also had four assists and three steals in forty minutes.
Bratchett bucketed 12-points on 4-of-9 shooting. Roberts had a double-double, by scoring 11 and ripping down a game-high 12 boards. Cox added 11 rebounds and two points. Bruner, who has been a steady force in recent weeks, was shackled with foul trouble that limited her playing time, points (6) and boards (2).
Darley had a game-best 31-points, making good on 10-of-17 shots, including 9-of-15 from downtown. Her points and threes were each season highs. She has now reached double-digits in scoring in 16 of 21 games.
Solis (SO-lees), in double-figures for the 11th occasion, chipped in with a dozen, Nashae (nuh-SHAY) Owens added 11, while Crump latched onto 10 caroms. Jasmine Fuller grabbed nine boards.
Big Week in Women's Hoops
SAGU, who play six of their final eight games against teams with winning records, will meet three of them this week in a span of six days. All three start at 5:30pm.
The five games they have lost after holding the lead in the final two minutes are coming to light as they seek post-season life.
On Monday, February 13, they travel to Langston, Oklahoma to face the 5-time league champion Langston Lions. Langston, ranked #9 in the latest NAIA Coaches Top 25 Poll, have lost only twice - both to Texas Wesleyan University (19-5, 14-4 RRAC).
Jarvis Christian College (12-6, 12-6 in RRAC) will welcome SAGU to Hawkins, Texas for a Thursday game.
Next Saturday, Feb. 18, Southwestern returns home for a date with LSU-Shreveport. The game will also share the stage with the Coaches versus Cancer fund-raising event, with all proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.
Coach Arlon Beadles will address the crowd at halftime about how cancer has impacted his life as well as the need to find a cure. Men's Head Coach Donnie Bostwick will speak during the other halftime.
A collection will be received during intermission. Individuals or businesses may contribute by mailing checks or money orders to the SAGU Athletic Department, 1200 Sycamore Street, Waxahachie, Tx 75165.