Solid start and finish sparks Lady Lions
SAGU wins opener, 80-68, over DCC
Winston, Bratchett lead five in double-figures
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Some things increase in their value once they have been lost. Like the lead.
In their home opener, the women’s basketball team from Southwestern Assemblies of God University scored the game’s first thirteen points and extended their advantage to over twenty points in the second half against Dallas Christian College.
The visiting Crusaders, however, caught fire midway in the second half and stormed back from a 63-43 deficit to take their only lead of the game, 68-67, on a three-point basket by Jessalyn Flowers. The triple from the right wing capped a 25-4 run with 4:56 remaining.
Head Coach Arlon Beadles calmed the uprising during a time-out. Several starters re-entered the line-up and the coach took the wraps off an aggressive man-to-man defense.
Hungry to reclaim their front-runner position, the Lady Lions finished the game like they started. They netted the final twelve points and held the Crusaders scoreless for nearly five minutes to salt away an 80-68 triumph.
It improved the team’s record to 1-2 after dropping a pair at an Oklahoma tournament last weekend.
A win to begin the team’s annual SAGU Classic was especially gratifying for how they salvaged what once appeared to be a one-sided victory.
SAGU made 49% of their shots (31-of-63), and fired 10 three-point baskets. The new-found range from beyond the arc gives the team 19 in the past two games, more than they made in any two games all of last season.
The 2011-12 team averaged only four triples per outing.
SAGU converted eight of ten tries from the foul line and swept the glass for a 35-27 margin over a shorter, but relentless DCC team.
The hosts took better care of the ball, losing it only 12 times, half by the starters. Four of the turnovers, however, came in the backcourt, all cashed in for easy baskets to spark the ‘Saders rally.
What kept Dallas Christian in the game was their knack for finding someone open on the perimeter.
They swished 12 of 26 treys, including 4-of-8 down the stretch during their comeback.
SAGU squeezed them for 17 turnovers, most during the first half.
Player Stats: Winston shines flourescently
The Lady Lions placed all five starters in double-figures, paced by junior guard “neon” Nia Winston (Garland, Tx / Panola Jr College, Lakeview Centennial HS).
She poured in 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting, grabbed six boards and collected five assists. It was her blinding shoes that caused her every move to bedazzle onlookers.
Winston was one of four starters with at least two trifectas.
Sophomore guard Okevia Bratchett (Center, Tx / Tenaha HS) continues to show a sharply improved game. She added a career-best 18 points in 23 minutes.
The 5-foot-4 inch ‘Keevie’ stopped and popped four three-balls, had six rebounds, six assists and nary a mistake.
Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS) was very effective in the post, totaling 13 points and ripping 10 rebounds off the backboard.
Her seven offensive caroms fueled the offense in the first half, when SAGU built a 50-31 lead. The Lady Lions averaged only 50 points per full-game last winter.
Point guard Taylor Hill (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS), a prolific passer, scored 10 points, including two triples.
The feisty freshman was credited with four assists. Most impressive was her turnover total in 35 minutes of play. Zero.
Sophomore forward Cordia Harvatin (San Antonio, Tx / Stacey HS), another with an elevated performance early in the season, was smooth under pressure.
She added 10 points, wristed two threes and pulled down four boards. She made two steals and had a lone turnover.
Coming off the bench following a broken nose a week ago was redshirt freshman Bethany Krock (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian). She played five minutes and connected on both of her shots from the field.
Brittany Griffin (Rockwall, Tx / Rockwall Christian) earned twenty minutes of playing time at center and forward. She scored two and grabbed a pair of rebounds.
Andrea Lugo (San Antonio, Tx / Somerset HS) scored two points, had three rebounds and was one of four players with two steals.
Making her first appearance since joining the team was forward Gloria Lozano (El Paso, Tx / Socorro HS). The 5’9 freshman spent the fall as a starting defender for the SAGU women’s soccer team.
Dallas Christian also had five players in double digits. Alison McGinnis and Nichole Perry tossed in 15 and 14 respectively, combining for a 9-of-15 effort from long distance.
The team was well-coached by Sean O'Conner and moved the ball very efficiently.
Final Five Minutes: SAGU finishes with 12-0 run
After the Crusaders surprising rally to take their only lead, the Lady Lions responded. They ran their offense until they had the desired shot and converted to seize control.
On defense they stifled their opponents as though keeping a small dog on a short leash. Impressive considering the Crusaders’ efficiency until the final five minutes.
The death knell rang for SAGU when first, Bratchett, and then Harvatin each drained 3-balls for a 73-68 advantage with 3:26 to play. Harvatin’s jumper from the baseline was assisted by a pass from Winston.
Hill split two defenders on a drive in the lane, pulled up and flipped in a short jumper at 2:39.
The game was officially iced when Harvatin swiped the ball and fed Winston for a transition basket and a fastbreak hoop, a Bratchett layup, pushed the lead to 79-68 with 1:51 remaining.
First Half Revisited
SAGU got out of the gate with three triples; Hill from the top of the key, Winston on the left wing, then Hill again, this time from the left to go on top 13-0.
Perhaps it was the inspiring National Anthem piece by Robert Johnson or a good home crowd, but the Lady Lions were all business.
Hankins powered in a layup thanks to a lob inside from Winston. She added another when Hill drove down the paint and dished to her for a 17-3 lead.
Krock came off the pine and made an immediate impact.
She stole the ball and connected with a streaking Lugo for an easy deuce.
A Griffin pass led to Krock’s first basket before she dashed the lane and made good on a runner for a 23-10 lead.
Following an assist on a Bratchett triple on a Winston dime, the latter snared an offensive rebound and scored with a high kiss off the glass to make it 28-15.
Harvatin, Bratchett and Winston raised the officials’ arms with shots beyond the arc to boost the lead to 39-21.
Hankins completed a three-point play when she muscled in a bucket on a Bratchett pass during transition to make it 44-21. Griffin's offensive putback (pictured above, right) gave the Purple Pride a 46-26 margin.
Lady Lions to face Queens on Saturday
SAGU’s next opponent, Wayland Baptist University, fell to LSU-Shreveport, 54-50, in the opener on Friday. The Flying Queens led throughout, including 36-22 in the second half.
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