Torrid second half leads Lady Lions to win
Bruner, Cox dominate the boards
SAGU clinches tourney berth with 76-60 triumph
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- It was a tale of two halves. Southwestern Assemblies of God University, behind a season-high 48 second half points, came from behind to defeat the University of St. Thomas, 76-60, in the regular-season home finale at the Sheaffer Center.
The triumph, coupled with Huston-Tillotson’s 58-54 loss to Texas Wesleyan University, clinched the eighth and final position in the Red River Athletic Conference tournament this weekend.
SAGU, as they have in recent seasons, will host the three-day event.
(The RRAC standings and first round pairings listed below)
The Lady Lions had no answer in the first twenty minutes for St. Thomas sophomore guard, Gaby Guzman. She connected on 7-of-11 shots, including five three-point baskets as the Celtics built a 21-11 lead, which they still owned at intermission, 35-28.
After recess, however, veteran head coach Arlon Beadles switched his normally effective 3-2 zone in an effort to slow down Guzman (GOOZ-mahn). Playing a triangle-and-two, the results were more than effectual.
Guzman was silenced by the coverage of Nia Winston (Garland, Tx / Panola JuCo, Lakeview Centennial HS), whose lateral quickness aided in blanking Guzman the rest of the way.
Okevia Bratchett (Center, Tx / Tenaha HS), whose performance down the stretch during this rebuilding season steadily improved, was part of that man-to-man defense.
The Lady Lions responded with a torrid second half in which they were successful on 59% of their attempts (17-of-29). Winston, who didn’t score in the first half, connected on all three of her triples and finished with 16 points.
Jirah Rodriguez (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS) came off the bench to combine with Winston to knock out the Celts. She poured in 10 of her 15 points after the break, as well as stroking two of her three trifectas.
The one constant in both halves was the dominating effort on the boards by Gabby Bruner (Peaster, Tx / Peaster HS) and Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS). They grabbed ten and thirteen rebounds as SAGU racked up a 41-22 advantage. This was without Shaquita Roberts (San Antonio, Tx / Byron Steele HS), who sat out the game to nurse a mild injury. She is expected back for the RRAC tourney.
Bruner, a fundamentally sound senior forward, was credited with 12 of her 18 points in the final twenty minutes, often scored on offensive putbacks or short jump shots.
Cox, who had a season-high 17 rebounds in the first meeting with St. Thomas, pulled down 13, including seven on the offensive glass. She also scored 16 points. Bratchett tossed in nine and led the defense with a game-high four steals.
Trailing 37-30, the Purple Pride went on a 15-2 run, taking the lead for good on an offensive stickback by Cox, 40-39, with 15:11 to go. Back-to-back treys by Winston and Rodriguez, on assists from Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS) and Winston to extend the lead to 56-47. It capped a 26-10 surge to seize control of the game.
Aye! Aye, Captain!
“We really didn’t play that badly in the first half,” explained Bruner, the senior Co-Captain. “What was killing us was number 13 (Guzman) on St. Thomas. She had 23 points in the first half! Mainly on threes.”
“She shot over our zone,” she explained. “We made some adjustments and she ended the game with 23."
“In the second half, our shots were falling and we adjusted on defense. We came out with the mindset that we are going to win this game. And that’s what we did. We took over and finished strong.”
It was a season that Southwestern answered a 10-game losing skid with a five wins in seven games to make something of a year in transition. It was a mixture of solid coaching and the determination of players to improve.
Playing with only seven players, the Celts tired in the closing moments. They never got closer than nine the rest of the way. SAGU scored the game’s final seven points for their largest leads on the night.
Shaq blocked from NAIA title, finishes #2
Roberts had a chance to win the NAIA title for blocking shots. She finished second to Alice Honnery, of the University of Mobile (Ala). Both players appeared in 28 games, with Honnery having a slim 110 to 107 edge in rejections.
Following the game, fans honored the careers of Bruner and Tina Brown (New Braunfels, Tx / Lifegate Christian), who started the game at guard.
Tournament Opponent: Langston Lady Lions
SAGU’s season continues into the post-season this Friday at the RRAC tourney. They will face perennial power, Langston University (28-2), in a 4:00pm quarter-final. They lost their most recent game to the LU Lady Lions, 73-64.
Details on the game and fans access to following the game on-line will be announced here by Thursday.
|9||* Langston||22-2||.917||28-2||.933||--||13-1||14-1||1-0||Won 11|
|RV||* LSU-Shreveport||21-3||.875||23-7||.767||1.0||12-2||10-3||1-2||Won 2|
|* Texas Wesleyan||19-5||.792||24-6||.800||3.0||13-2||11-4||0-0||Won 2|
|* Our Lady of the Lake||18-6||.750||23-7||.767||4.0||12-2||11-5||0-0||Won 1|
|* Wiley||16-8||.667||20-9||.690||6.0||11-3||8-6||1-0||Won 1|
|* Jarvis Christian||15-9||.625||15-9||.625||7.0||8-4||7-5||0-0||Lost 2|
|* Texas College||11-13||.458||11-18||.379||11.0||6-7||5-9||0-2||Lost 1|
|* SW Assemblies of God||7-17||.292||10-20||.333||15.0||7-8||3-11||0-1||Won 1|
|Paul Quinn||5-18||.217||6-23||.207||16.5||5-10||1-13||0-0||Lost 7|
|St. Thomas - Houston||4-19||.174||7-22||.241||17.5||5-9||2-13||0-0||Lost 2|
Friday, March 2
Game 1: #3 Texas Wesleyan (24-6) vs. #6 Jarvis Christian (15-9), 8 a.m.
Saturday, March 3
Finals - Championship Game
Monday, March 5