Chilly Reception: Lady Lions Iced, 55-38
Purple Pride shoots 24%, lose to LSU-Shreveport
SHREVEPORT, Louisiana -- They are not the only team in the Red River Athletic Conference that can play defense. Southwestern Assemblies of God University, despite playing their own brand of resistance, were routed on the road tonight, 55-38, by Louisiana State University at Shreveport.
The Lady Lions, who got off to an 8-0 start in league play, have now gone 4-4 since January 17. At 17-7 overall and 12-4 in the RRAC, they trail four-time defending champion Langston University by four games in the loss column. The loss was eased a bit when Our Lady of the Lake (15-7, 11-5) topped Texas Wesleyan (19-4, 11-4) in San Antonio, 70-64.
Playing without freshman center Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS), the team was crushed on the boards by a 55-28 count. She suffered an injury in Saturday's win over Wiley College. The Lions made 23.7% of their shots and connected on just 4-of-21 shots beyond the arc. SAGU rolled to a 72-69 win over LSU-Shreveport at home in December.
SAGU was led in scoring by senior guard Heather Jefferson (Conroe, Tx / Conroe HS) and Chelsea Jones (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian). Both tossed in 12 points, with Jones reaching double figures for the 24th time this season by scoring nine points after intermission.
First Half Recap
The Lady Lions' penchant for setting the tempo of games from the opening tip was again established. They grabbed a 4-0 lead on a pair of baskets by Jefferson, one on an assist by Jirah Rodriguez (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS), the second on a driving layup. Twice in their first three possessions the team squandered steals by missing shots.
When Stephanie Hawkins (DeSoto, Tx / DeSoto HS) grabbed her own miss, reset the offense, then triggered a three-point basket, SAGU had a 7-2 lead with 14:14 left in the half. Signs of their cold shooting were already apparent. The team was off the mark in eight of their first eleven tries.
The absence of Hankins and her high post play, along with her rebounding, was evident. The Lady Pilots began pounding the offensive boards, parlaying their advantage inside for a 14-10 lead.
Jefferson pilfered a pass, leading to a 3-ball by Rodriguez at the 7:59 mark. The feisty senior and former player for the Conroe H.S. Tigers, continued her carnivorous play. She turned a Gabby Bruner (Peaster, Tx / Peaster HS) miss into an offensive putback, was fouled, then converted the "and one" for an old-fashioned three point play. SAGU led, 16-15, with 6:13 to play.
Jefferson picked the pocket of Kylie Leonards and darted the distance. The Pride was on top, 18-17, just 4:47 before recess. They wouldn't score again until the closing seconds. Rodriguez stole the ball and cashed it into a layup.
By then the Lady Pilots had closed the half on an 11-2 run to take a 28-20 advantage into the locker room.
Much of SAGU's scoring had come as a result of their defense, which held LSUS to 35% shooting (11-of-31). The Lions' halfcourt offense was out of sync and hit only 29% of their (8-of-28) attempts. Jefferson netted nine points and four boards to lead in both categories for Team Lioness.
The Pilots held a 26-15 edge on the boards, though they had retrieved 10 off the offensive glass.
Second Half Summary
The Lady Pilots went for the jugular at the start of the second frame. They swished their first three shots, including two trifectas by Leonards and Rachel Carlson. The hosts had the upper hand, 36-22 (17:18), and the frosty shooters of Southwestern would never get closer than 10 the rest of the contest.
LSUS, who posted a 23-7 record last winter after going 27-6 in 2009, played well throughout. They limited the Lions' second chance opportunities in the second half as they owned a 29-13 margin in caroms over the final twenty minutes.
To their credit, coach Arlon Beadles' unit refused to relent. The 'Cats in violet forced 17 second half turnovers (they finished with 28) while making only three (SAGU had just 13 for the game), but simply couldn't overcome their icy shooting.
The Lions mojo was missing in action. After rocking the Pilots for 72 points in their first encounter, they mustered 38 on Monday. During the second half they were good on six of thirty one attempts (19%), including 1-of-10 beyond the arc. Even with the rare off-night the club has the best three-point accuracy in the RRAC (37%).
After Hawkins assisted a field goal by Jones at the 16:58 mark, the team didn't make another for the next five minutes. Jefferson snared an offensive rebound and tossed the ball to Rodriguez in the paint for a score (11:16). They remained in the game at 37-27.
That's when the Pilots 5-foot-9 junior, forward Sharday Cotton took control of the game. Their leading scorer (14 ppg) and rebounder (12 rpg) this season powered in back-to-back-to-back baskets for a 47-29 lead (6:47) to effectively put the game away.
The Lions went another five minutes between field goals before Jones stroked a triple after a nice pass from Rachel Harris (Joshua, Tx / Bethesda Christian) with 4:28 showing on The Dock clock. Jones, who could get free for only five second half shots, sank a pair of free throws seconds later, reducing the deficit to 48-34.
Jones, limited to 1-of-8 shooting in the first half by a pesky Pilots squad, keyed the team's final basket by grabbing a defensive board. She capped the possession when she dished a dime to Rodriguez in the lane. Jones was fouled while launching a trey, drawing the Lions to within 50-38 after she popped 2-of-3 from the solo stripe (2:38). Team Purp wouldn't score again, missing their final three shots.
Major Adjustments Since First Meeting
Credit the Pilots with a great defensive effort. Head coach Ronnie Howell, in his eighth season, employed an effective defensive scheme to counter the Lady Lions' attack. They utilized a Star Trek force field as a shield against SAGU, preventing interior shots. The Lions had to settle for perimeter shots, which, on this night, simply would not fall.
Focusing on Jones and Hawkins, the Lions top two scorers, the Shreveport River Runners forced the pair to shoot a combined 5-of-34. It was easily the most effective defense against the talented duo in years. The pair found the range on just three of 13 shots outside the arc, and the team was 4-of-21. It was one of those nights.
It has been 143 games since the Lady Lions were held under 40. On November 11, 2006, they were routed by Oklahoma Christian University, 88-32. The Eagles were 23-8 that season. (See graph below)
There is no truth that Howell signaled the Vulcan salute at game's end, though his defense lived long and prospered.
Jones and Jefferson led the Lions with 12 points apiece, with the latter registering three assists. Jones had four steals while Jefferson accounted for three. Rodriguez finished with nine points on 4-of-8 shooting. Hawkins netted five points.
Bruner paced the team on the boards with six before fouling out. Jefferson had five, Jones four, and three each by Hawkins, Harris and Andrea Lugo (San Antonio, Tx / Somerset HS).
Sharday finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Tynekqua Warren also had a double-double, tallying for 12 points and ten boards. LSUS, now 13-9 overall and 10-6 in the RRAC, shot 41% from the floor, and made 8-of-23 threes. They converted only 7-of-16 free throws. SAGU was 6-of-8.
No Place Like Home: Saturday vs. Texas College
The Lady Lions return home this Saturday when they will face a solid Texas College (15-7, 7-7) team at 5:30pm. The Lady Steers have won three straight. If the season ended today, SAGU would face the 7th place TC Steers in the RRAC tournament.
Saturday's game will feature the annual Coaches versus Cancer event that draws attention to the fight against breast cancer. Fans are asked to bring a donation for this worthy cause. Southwestern will take up an offering in chapel later this week.
The team's final home game against Jarvis Christian College, on Monday, February 14, will be headlined as Senior Night. Four Lady Lions will make their final regular season appearance in the Sheaffer Center.
Lady Lions Scoring Lows
Season Won-Lost Record Games Played Season Low Times Scoring Under 50
2010-11 17-7 (so far) 24 38 2 times (40 vs John Brown)
2009-10 25-8 33 47 2 times (47 to Langston, Union Univ)
2008-09 24-8 32 43 7 times (43 against Wiley)
2007-08 6-23 29 43 5 times (43 vs. Wiley)
2006-07 5-22 27 32 11 times (32 vs Okla Christian, 39 vs MACU)