Lady Lions fade late, 73-64
Sodich and Hill each pour in 19 points
SAGU led 43-37 before yielding to HTU
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University women’s basketball team controlled the rebounds and the pace of the game throughout against Huston-Tillotson University on Thursday night.
What they couldn’t control was possession of the basketball or the Lady Rams guards in the second half, resulting in a 73-64 loss inside the Sheaffer Center.
SAGU led by six on several occasions, the last coming at 43-37 on a basket by Okievia Bratchett (Center, Tx / Tenaha HS). It came seconds after a steal by Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) and a quick outlet pass to the speedy Bratchett.
Turnovers and defensive breakdowns in the backcourt fueled a Rams rally that saw the visitors bust open a close game.
Trailing the Lady Lions 48-44 with 10:27 to play, Tillotson began cashing in turnovers and draining key three-pointers during a 27-7 run over a span of 7:26.
Leading by 71-55 with 3:01 to play, Tillotson coasted to victory.
The maroon-clad squad from Austin improved their overall record to 11-15. They also upped their Red River Athletic Conference mark to 9-8 where they are now tied for fifth place.
SAGU made 13 of their 22 turnovers in the second half, while the Lady Ewes committed just four after intermission. That negated a 34-20 domination of the boards.
The Lady Lions are still in contention for a berth in the RRAC tournament, holding on to eighth and final position that brings post-season life. The team is 8-17 in all games and are 5-13 in league play.
Team Purple had a super first half from guard Jessica Sodich (Arlington, Tx / Ovilla Christian) and a great second stanza by Taylor Hill (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS). Both are freshmen.
Sodich popped four-of-six three-pointers en route to 14 points and a 32-30 lead at recess. Hill connected on half of her tries from long distance to pour in 15 points coming out of the locker room.
Both players shared game-high honors with HT’s LaKevia Castillo. The trio each racked up 19 points.
The difference was that Sodich and Hill played over 35 minutes and Castillo did her damage in just 17.
The Lady Lions out-pointed the Rams, 59-58, in field goals. The quicker opponent, however, attacked the basket, leading to SAGU fouls.
The free throw line became the critical factor. HT swished 15 of their 20 attempts compared to only five-of-six by SAGU.
Normally a strength, the Lady Lions zone defense allowed penetration and were slow to rotate to cover the leaks.
Tillotson entered the game 10th in the RRAC in shooting accuracy, making 35% of their shots. After netting 37% in the first half, they found their range, converting 15-of-27 (.556) in the second.
SAGU nearly matched the Rams after halftime, swishing 13-of-27 (.481), before turnovers, most of them by the backcourt, decided the outcome.
During the pivotal segment of the game when HT went from trailing by four (48-44) to leading by 16 (71-55), the Lady Lions made twice as many turnovers (7) as field goals (3 in 10 attempts).
Often a spark for the young ballclub, the SAGU bench was cold. They combined to for three makes in 14 tries.
Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS) supplied much of the reserves’ production with six points and six rebounds. Bratchett and Cox contributed seven and eight points, with Cox leading with 10 rebounds.
Andrea Lugo (San Antonio, Tx / Somerset HS) chipped in with a three-ball and team-high four assists.
Take Five: Season winds down, will Lady Lions?
SAGU will be back in action on Saturday, February 9, when they travel to Houston to face the University of St. Thomas (13-12, 9-8 in RRAC). The game is scheduled for a 2:00pm opening tip.
After a home game on Feb. 18 against Northwood University (4-18), SAGU has a very tough final stretch. They play Our Lady of the Lake University (23-1) and Wiley College (19-3) at home, then close at LSU-Shreveport (18-3).
SAGU went 0-5 against that quintet in their first encounter. They will likely need a win or two in the closing weeks to secure a tournament bid.
Their next home date is Monday, Feb. 18, versus Northwood.