Lady Hoopsters end season with loss
Hankins has fourth straight 10+ rebound game
Growing pains finish with setback at no. 25 LSUS
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Facing the no. 25 ranked LSU-Shreveport team on the road is not an enviable task. For the Southwestern Assemblies of God University women’s basketball team, a good start against the Lady Pilots did not result in a good finish.
After leading through the early stages of the game, the Lady Lions yielded a 25-7 run to the hosts, who went on to win in a 73-37 verdict.
The setback brought an end to a 9-21 season for SAGU, whose starting line-up this year often consisted of five underclassmen. At 5-17 in the Red River Athletic Conference, they were in ninth place, just missing a berth as the no. 8 seed in the RRAC tournament.
The Lady Lions were 7-8 in the Sheaffer Center and just 2-13 in away games. A pair of one-point setbacks to teams who qualified for the tournament proved costly down the stretch.
Playing without three solid starters for most of the season put a considerable amount of pressure on a young squad. The group made measureable progress and are optimistic about putting the pieces together for next year.
The Lions' Brittany Griffin (Rockwall, Tx / Rockwall Christian), earning her first start of the year after a 20-point effort against Wiley College, assisted on the game’s first basket, a jumper by Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS) for a 2-0 lead.
Following a defensive rebound by Hankins, Griffin pitched to Bethany Krock (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian) on the wing. The redshirt freshman drained a triple to tie the game at 5-5 at the 14:12 mark. It triggered an 8-2 run by the guests in purple.
On their next possession, freshman point guard Taylor Hill (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) spotted Krock, again open on the edge. She ripped the nets for an 8-5 upper hand.
Hill, a gutsy competitor with an aversion to losing, gave SAGU a 10-7 advantage when she popped in a pair from the foul line with 12:23 left in the half.
The scoreboard ceased being a visual target for SAGU fans as the talented Lady River Pilots took control.
Griffin, an inspirational story of hard work, did draw SAGU to within 14-12 when she banked in an offensive putback, but it was all-LSUS after that. They scored 14 of the next 15 points to seize control of the contest.
By halftime the Lady Pilots held a 35-17 lead and, while making just 13-of-34 (38%) from the field, held SAGU to 5-of-26 (19%) shooting. So efficient were the disciplined hosts, they made only two turnovers in the first half and five for the game.
SAGU improved their shooting in the second half (8-of-26), but so did the Pilots (14-of-28). The Lady Lions coughed up the ball just 14 times, but LSUS cashed them into 20 points.
Bright spots in the second stanza for the Purple Pride were three triples.
Jessica Sodich (Arlington, Tx / Ovilla Christian) knocked down the first, thanks to an assist from Andrea Lugo (San Antonio, Tx / Somerset HS).
Cordia Harvatin (San Antonio, Tx / Stacey HS), who upped her scoring average from 2.5 to 5.3 this season, gunned consecutive bombs, each coming on passes from Hill. The last basket cut the deficit to 57-28, with 9:23 remaining.
Her playing time increased from 11 to 18 minutes a game.
Krock was tops in points with eight, while Hankins and Harvatin each registered six points. Hankins had a game-high 10 rebounds to finish the season with four successive double-digit performances on the boards.
LSUS was led by two familiar names; Sharde (SHAR-day) Henry and Christy Willis, who netted 20 and 18 respectively. Willis was particularly hot, firing 6-of-10 shots from beyond the arc.
The Lady Pilots conclude the season with a 24-4 record, 19-3 in league play. They were swept by Our Lady of the Lake University (28-2, 20-2 in RRAC), and split with Wiley College (26-3, 20-2 in RRAC.
Wiley won the #1 seed in the tourney by virtue of their 2-0 mark against OLLU, winning 90-87 in Marshall and rallying for an 84-82 triumph in San Antonio.
SAGU hopes to return their missing players and, with a year of seasoning under their belt, the freshmen and sophomores could give the team and their fans reasons to roar in 2014.