Lady Lions show growl in setback
No. 24 OLLU tops SAGU, 84-64
Lugo leads strong effort in her hometown
SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Despite a solid performance on the boards, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University women’s basketball team fell to no. 24 ranked Our Lady of the Lake University, 84-64, on Thursday evening at the Mabee Gymnasium.
Battling turnovers against the OLLU fullcourt press, the Lady Lions, 5-11 overall and 2-8 in the Red River Athletic Conference, quickly found themselves trailing 10-1.
Displaying a fearless spirit and an impressive amount of energy against the nation’s highest scoring team – the Saints (15-1, 8-1 in RRAC) have eclipsed the century mark four times – SAGU was plenty respectable!
SAGU had a strong contingent of fans and alumni at the game, including friends and fans of Lady Lions players from the area.
Layups by guards Andrea Lugo (San Antonio, Tx / Somerset HS) and Taylor Hill (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) were followed by two buckets from Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS) on assists by Lugo and Jessica Sodich (Arlington, Tx / Ovilla Christian), drawing the Purple Pride to within 13-9 at the 14:31 mark.
They would get no closer. Our Lady answered with a 7-0 run that established control and tempo of the game.
A three-ball by the freshman guard, Hill, and a pair of Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) free throws kept SAGU within 27-18.
OLLU finished the first half by scoring twenty of the final thirty points for a 47-28 lead. Three consecutive three-balls by Nashae (nah-SHAY) Owens, Lauren Rubio and Chelsea Solis pushed their lead to 36-18.
Owens has now reached double figures in 14 of 16 games for Coach Christopher Minner. She has five outings of 20-or-more points and is scoring at a 16.1 points per game clip.
The 5'7 sophomore also leads the RRAC in free throw accuracy, where she has canned 53-of-58 for a 91% accuracy. The sniper has a current streak of more than 30 makes in a row without a miss. Owens canned all four of her attempts against SAGU.
The Lady Lions were squeezed into 20 turnovers which offset the team’s 19-15 rebounding margin.
Adjustments were made during the break, though OLLU’s distinctive advantage in experience enabled them to keep Southwestern from making a serious run.
SAGU pulled to within 16 a few times; 49-33 on a Sodich to Hill triple and a knifing drive inside by Lugo that had Team Lioness trailing 61-45 with 12:48 to play.
The Halos kept the pressure on, making navigating through it akin to dancing in a minefield. Twelve players scored for the hosts, whose depth was critical.
Owens led the OLLU attack with 18 points. Nelly Flores and Solis contributed 15 and 12, with the trio combining for nine of their team’s ten trifectas.
Still, there was much to like about the SAGU performance. They outrebounded OLLU by a 45-33 count and forced them into 21 turnovers.
After the Saints shot 53% in the opening stanza, they were limited to 33% during a second half that saw Our Lady hold a 37-36 margin in scoring.
Coach Beadles applauds Lady Lions effort
Team Purp connected on 36% and 35% in the two halves. Coach Arlon Beadles’ unit also sank 18-of-20 free throws.
“Our defense did very well,” Beadles said while watching the men’s game. “These guys (OLLU) are a very good team and it’s hard to look good against them. They are a nice team and they were fresh from playing their best game of the season at LSU-Shreveport.”
“It’s never good to lose,” he continued, “but you need to learn from your defeats and keep getting better. And we are.”
“We made way too many turnovers, but I couldn’t be happier with our effort. It was fantastic and several players really stepped up their intensity,” he said, praising those whose performance showed more passion than normal.
The veteran coach added in his typically warm but straight-forward way, “We just need to develop discipline on offense and take better care of the ball.”
Nine of the ten players coughed up the ball at least once. Only Cox, a sophomore center, had a zero in the turnover column. (Click on the Box Score above for complete statistics)
Still, the squad was able to beat the crush of Lady Saints in the backcourt. Okievia Bratchett (Center, Tx / Tenaha HS), Bethany Krock (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian), Sodich, Hill and Lugo had degrees of success getting through the OLLU maze.
Short of equipping players with a GPS app, the challenge appeared daunting at times.
Hill, Lugo among many bright spots
Lugo, one of a handful playing in their hometown, served as a tour guide to team activities on Wednesday night and Thursday along the river walk. She led the team in assists and connected on four of seven shots in her longest stint on the court all season (thirty minutes).
Coach Beadles made a point to mention the lift Lugo gave the team with her play in the backcourt. “We needed her and she stepped up” her execution, he said.
Hill finished with a game-high 21 points. It included 4-of-8 from long distance. She got bounced on one occasion by the Saints' double-teaming press. She bounced right back like a pinball refusing to tilt.
Playing through assorted physical hurts, Hankins went hard, netting 10 points and 11 rebounds. Cox grabbed nine boards and scored six.
Sophomore forward Brittany Griffin (Rockwall, Tx / Rockwall Christian) and Sodich also stood out for toiling in the line of fire. Both appear to be getting their legs under them as the season unfolds.
Griffin knocked down a 16-foot, left-handed jump shot that drew SAGU to within 57-39 as well as a pull-up jumper that kept the deficit at 18 (61-43).
Sodich’s inner-fire was vivid as she went all-out in a losing cause. Her hustle, aggressiveness on the boards and hunger for steals were exemplified on a charge she drew in the second half.
Glimmering like gold nuggets in a fast moving stream were a handful of highlight plays for Team Purp;
A kickout pass from Cox to Hill on the left side that the freshman point guard stroked for a three-ball. It made the score 27-16. Hill, driving into the teeth of the defense for a basket, was fouled and added the ‘and one.’
Twice the duo that surely starred in ‘Rise of the Guardians’ made statements on the court.
Getting the last possession of the first half with seven ticks on the clock, SAGU had the length of the court separating them from scoring. “Keve” (pronounced KEE-vee) Bratchett zoomed the sideline and sent a chest-high pass to Hill in the corner.
From there Hill launched a bomb at the buzzer that tickled the twine.
Another freeze-frame moment came when Bratchett stripped the ball from a Lady Saint at midcourt, turned and hit Hill in-stride across court for a layup.
Lugo had her moments. Once she back-peddled with the ball on the right wing, looked to the side - freezing a defender, then hit the accelerator for a driving lay-in.
Then she contributed an offensive rebound on the baseline, whirled and hit Cox with a dart. The 6’1 sophomore center wristed a 10-footer that made the score 65-47.
In the closing minutes Cordia Harvatin (HAR-vah-ten) (San Antonio, Tx / Stacey HS) beat the press and scored on a pass from Hill.
Lady Lions play in Cedar Hill on Monday
SAGU returns to the court on Monday, January 14, when they meet Northwood University. The game will be played at Trinity Christian School (near hwy 67 at 1313 E. Pleasant Run Rd) in Cedar Hill at 7:30pm. The Lady Lions have dropped seven consecutive games.
The Lady Knights are 2-15 after beating the University of the Southwest (6-11), 102-91, on Thursday.
SAGU remains on the road until Saturday night, Jan. 26, when they play host to Bacone College (3-8).
SAGU receives forfeit victory in December game
As indicated on the RRAC website, the Lady Lions were awarded a forfeit victory in their December 1 home game against Jarvis Christian College. A player eligibility snafu led to the ruling.
The Bulldogs won the game in which SAGU lost leading scorer and All-Conference guard Nia Winston (Garland, Tx / Panola JC, Lakeview Centennial HS) for the season to injury.
Special Thanks to OLLU News and Sports Information Officer Patty Constantin for providing action photos from the game.