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Hankins dominates paint with 19 boards

Griffin turns in double-double; Sodich threes leads to 14 pts

Box Score

WAXAHACHIE, Texas  -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University women's basketbll team broke open a close game midway through the second half with a 17-0 run to rout Northwood University by a 74-47 count.

The solo game was played inside the Sheaffer Center.

Four players scored in double figures, but none dominated like junior Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS). Despite being shackled with foul difficulties, she scored 14 points and ripped down a career-high 19 rebounds.

The Lady Lions, now 9-18, made 50% of their shots during a 44-point second half. Their defense limited the Lady Knights (4-21) to 26% shooting for the game, though Northwood did rush a number of layups and shots in the lane before SAGU pulled away.

Led by Hankins, Team Lioness swept the glass clean, racking up a 52-34 margin on the boards. Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) had a solid effort, claiming 13 caroms.

Brittany Griffin (Rockwall, Tx / Rockwall Christian) turned in her first career double-double (13 and 10).

First Half Summary

The game hung in the balance beyond the first half, in which the Lady Lions managed a 30-26 advantage.

SAGU, in arrears by two-points in the early moments, went on top 9-4 on a basket and a triple by Jessica Sodich (Arlington, Tx / Ovilla Christian).

Hankins muscled in an inside job, Cox hit a 10-foot baseline jumper, and then Griffin converted a miss by Cox for a 19-10 lead.

Griffin reached to reel in the carom, spun past a defender, and then found the bank was open after 7:00pm. She netted the putback with a soft bankshot.

Point guard Taylor Hill (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) made like a youngster passing a note underhanded in class. She discreetly relayed a pass to the left wing to Cordia Harvatin (San Antonio, Tx / Stacey HS).

The sophomore knocked down a three-pointer with a subtle wrist to extend the lead 22-11 with 7:32 remaining in the opening stanza.

The Lady Knights, who are working their way through their inaugural campaign, responded with a run of their own.

Shakira Waggoner started things with an old-fashioned three-point play, and, after a Harvatin-from-Griffin bucket, Lakeisha Blanson chipped in after an assist from Anna Perez.

Northwood took advantage of two miscues by the SAGU backcourt, each parlayed into easy deuces by Blanson and Perez. They sliced the 11-point deficit to 26-24 at the 3:05 mark.

A steal by Hill ended with Bethany Krock (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian) netting a breakaway, then scoring again before the buzzer for a 30-26 SAGU lead.

The Lady Lions made 13-of-35 (37%) of their shots while limiting Northwood to 8-of-30 (27%).

Outrebounded 25-20 at the break, the Knights, clad in blue, took advantage of 8-of-13 free throw shooting (SAGU was just 2-of-4) to keep things close.

It wouldn’t stay that way for long.

Recalling the Second Half

Holding a 32-28 lead, SAGU tacked on 10 unanswered points in exactly four minutes to open it up at 42-28.

Thanks to a pass from Cox, Sodich ripped the nets from long distance, then, after field goals by Hill and Griffin, the volleyball spiker drove inside for a score, was fouled and made the ‘and one’ for a team sensing a triumph.

Northwood, who has sister schools in (West Palm Beach) Florida and (Midland) Michigan, kept up the fight. They were within eight (46-38, 11:06) following 3-balls from Aundre Mora and Ashley Torres.

Head Coach Arlon Beadles called on Hankins, who had been out after picking up her fourth personal foul. The most accurate shooter on the team (53%) despite an ailing shoulder, checked back into the game.

The move was timely for Beadles, who also sent Okievia Bratchett (Center, Tx / Tenaha HS) into the fray a moment later.

Over the next 6:50 of the game the Lady Lions had their way. They turned out the lights on the Knights while delivering 17 straight points for a 63-38. Check mate.

Griffin and Hill each accounted for five points during the surge, with the latter and Sodich both firing bombs from beyond the arc.

During the decisive scoring streak the Lady Lions blanked the Knights by forcing as many turnovers (five) as missed shots.

Southwestern extended their lead to 29 moments later when Hankins passed to Shaina Tanks (Spring Branch, Tx / Smithson Valley HS). The freshman reserve gunned a 3-ball from the left wing.

The win avenged a 67-59 road loss a month ago in Cedar Hill. In that game Northwood controlled the boards, 37-31. Monday night at home, SAGU turned the tables on the upstart Lady Knights, seizing a 52-34 rebounding margin.

Spotlight shines on Hankins, Griffin, Sodich, Hill

Hankins, who earlier this season poured in 29 against the University of the Southwest, beat her previous high in rebounds (15) with 19. The six-foot Sooner pulled won 11 in thirteen second half minutes.

Griffin, a sophomore forward, is a lesson in perseverance. Turning in her first double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, she has increased her playing time from 4.9 minutes per game as a freshman to 12.6 this year.

Outscoring a freshman season in which she received mail on the bench, she has upped her scoring from 10 total points to 94.

During the second half on Monday she was one of three players (Sodich, Hill) in purple with nine points after intermission. She had six of her ten boards during a 15 minute second half for the 5’11 forward.

Equaling Hankins in scoring was Sodich, an All-Conference performer in volleyball. Her 14 points included three treys and as many steals.

Hill overcame a quiet start to finish with 11 points and a team-high four assists. Her pleasant expression and appearance belie a toughness and insistence on winning.

As the green has worn off a cast of nine underclassmen, Hill has been joined by Sodich and others who believe for better days and victorious nights.

Battling through a season with three key contributors, starters all, ruled out for the year, this band of Lady Lions has fought bravely throughout. The squad has earned their stripes and stands to benefit mightily next season from the increased moxie and by developing depth.

Season Schedule: Three tough tests ahead

SAGU has three games in the regular season, the next two at home.

They will face the top three teams in the Red River Athletic Conference; hosting Our Lady of the Lake University (26-2) on Thursday at 5:30pm, Wiley College (23-3) at 2:00pm on Saturday, then travelling for a Monday tussle at LSU-Shreveport (21-4) at 5:30pm.

Going up against three ranked teams who have collaborated for 70 wins in 79 outings, winning almost 90% of their games, is a very tall order.

In spite of small odds, don’t count on this bunch being afraid.

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