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St. Thomas rides 41-20 halftime lead to victory

Hill leads SAGU with 21; Cox has 16 rebounds

Box Score

WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University women’s basketball team couldn’t overcome a first half cold spell and fell to the University of St. Thomas, 77-56, on Saturday afternoon at the Sheaffer Center.

Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) scored two quick buckets and Taylor Hill (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) answered with three hoops as the Lady Lions were within 15-10 of St. Thomas at the midway mark of the first half.

Enter the Lady Celts' Amber Arceneaux-Francis, a 6-foot senior.

She tossed in nine points as the black-clad Celts went on a 19-5 run. She wristed a short baseline jumper and was fouled, then converted the three-point play for a 34-15 lead with 3:33 left in the half.

St. Thomas is located in Houston’s museum district. Ironically, Arceneaux (AR-sin-OH) Francis began pouring in baskets, most of them in the ‘paint.’ By halftime she ‘hung up’ 24 of her game-high 36 points.

So dominating was her game that she netted 14 of 18 shots, 8 of 10 free throws. She blocked three shots and was credited with four steals.

The forward also grabbed 21 rebounds, eight of them on the offensive glass. She converted most of them into easy putbacks as the Celts zoomed to a 41-20 lead by intermission.

SAGU regrouped after the break and were able to match the Celts point for point, 36-36, but were unable to draw any closer. The visitors led by thirty at 65-35 at the 7:54 mark.

The Lady Lions, 4-11 this season, are 1-8 in games involving teams in the Red River Athletic Conference. It was the team’s sixth loss in as many games.

The team did, however, finished the game on a 21-12 surge.

Andrea Lugo (San Antonio, Tx / Somerset HS) and Shaina Tanks (Spring Branch, Tx / Smithson Valley HS) keyed the run. Lugo stroked a pull-up jumper from the foul line and Tanks filled-it-up with a high-octane three in the closing moments.

SAGU struggled to find shooting consistency, making 28% of their attempts in the first stanza and 37% in the second. Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS) was the only player over 50% from the field.

Coming to aid the offense was a defense that forced 22 turnovers and nearly won the rebound battle.

The Purple Pride pulled down 34 boards, 14 offensive, compared to UST’s 36 and 12. The difference was the Celts converted their offensive stickbacks.

The one constant the squad could hang their hat on was Hill. A feisty competitor, the 5’6 freshman scored nine of her team-high 21 points before intermission. Hill also grabbed five rebounds and swished 7-of-8 from the foul line.

She has totaled over 20-points three times this year and produced double-figures in another nine. Her scoring average rose to 11.5.

Cox, a 6’0 sophomore, did yeoman service on the boards, snatching 16 rebounds, half of them offensive. Her average of 10.5 boards per game will rank second in the conference once she has played in 75% of the game. Currently she has appeared in 11 of 15.

Hill and Cox received the most playing time, deservedly so, for their efficient play. The former was on the court for 37 minutes, the latter for 34.

Hankins totaled seven points and five rebounds in 15 minutes, while Cox chipped in with six caroms.

Sodich, Tanks and Okievia Bratchett (Center, Tx / Tenaha HS) accounted for five points apiece.

St. Thomas evened their ledger at 7-7 and their league mark to 4-3. They remain in fifth place, as the four teams ahead of them have suffered a combined three losses.

The Lady Celts (pronounced Kelts) have enjoyed a brisk upgrade in just their second season of existence. Last year they were 8-22 in all games and their 5-19 RRAC record tied three teams in the cellar.

SAGU took both meetings with St. Thomas last winter.

Arceneaux-Francis broke her personal scoring high; topping the 32 she against Saint Gregory’s (Ok) earlier this season. She has yet to attempt a three-pointer in her career.

Her points per game average increased to 20.0 as a result. It was the eighth time this year she has eclipsed 20 in a contest. As a junior she averaged 9.4 ppg with a high of 16.

On Deck: Lady Lions tangle with Lady Halos

SAGU will be in action again on Thursday, January 10, when they travel to San Antonio to face Our Lady of the Lake University. The game will begin at 5:30pm.

The Lady Saints lost their first game of the season on Saturday, 90-87, at Wiley College. OLLU is 13-1 overall and 6-1 in the RRAC, while the Wildcats are 13-1 and 7-0.

Team Lioness, on the road for five consecutive dates, will play their next home game on Saturday, Jan. 26, when Bacone College comes to town.

Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, SAGU Sports Information Director, at or at 469-658-2847.