SAGU Tames Fillies, 51-46
Defensive effort bridles Southwest shooters
HOBBS, New Mexico -- Keyed by a stifling defense that limited the University of the Southwest to 24% shooting in the first half, the Southwestern Assemblies Lady Lions were able to control the ball and the game in a 51-46 triumph Saturday.
SAGU established a 22-17 lead by the end of the first half and held off the Lady Mustangs for a second time this season and fourth in a row in the series. The Lady Lions are now 16-5 in all games and 11-2 in the Red River Athletic Conference, trailing only Langston University (17-4, 12-1). USW fell to 5-14 and 3-10 RRAC.
Southwestern held the upper hand in two major areas that often determine the outcome; shooting accuracy and rebounds gained. SAGU made 46% of their shots compared to USW’s 29% and held a 39-32 edge on the boards. The Purple Pride had a clear advantage on the foul line as well, sinking 12-of-16 free throws. The Fillies were five-of-nine.
So why was the game within reach for the Hobbs Squad?
The Mustangs bucked 23 turnovers from the Lady Lions, with the backcourt starters coughing it up 11 times. Plus, Southwest held a 9-3 edge in three-point baskets and were superior on the offensive glass where they had a 15-8 margin in second chances. Those factors kept them within striking distance.
Lady Lions led by three seniors
SAGU, however, has the benefit of core of players who have played together for four years. The result is a confidence in close games. The team is 9-2 in games decided by less than ten points. While not overwhelming, they are very effective.
Saturday’s game was case-in-point as their halfcourt offense created open looks and good shots. Chelsea Jones (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian) hit five of seven overall and two-of-three beyond the arc to lead the team with 14 points. She also laid claim to seven rebounds.
Overcoming a slow start, Stephanie Hawkins (DeSoto, Tx / DeSoto HS) finished with 13 points, proving steady on the line (5-of-6) and in running the offense in the clutch.
Heather Jefferson (Conroe, Tx / Conroe HS), the third senior in the starting group, added eight points and supplied quickness to fuel the defensive effort. She stroked a key trifecta and led in assists.
For the fourth straight game since being inserted into the line-up, freshman center Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Sierra HS) clutched nine rebounds. The 5-foot-11 Okie accounted for eight points and was second in field goals attempted.
Jirah Rodriguez (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS) and Gabby Bruner (Peaster, Tx / Peaster HS), a pair of forwards, combined for just six points, but had 13 caroms between them.
More than OK Corral
Melody Borjas, a 5’3 junior guard, kept the Ponies in the game with a hot shooting hand. Entering the game as their sixth highest point producer (7.1 ppg), she drained six treys and one two-point basket for a season-best 20 points. But no one else was able to score in double digits. Of the team’s 58 shots, 33 were beyond the arc, where they connected on only nine (31%).
In their first meeting, the University of the Southwest went south, 72-56, once again putting just one scorer in double figures. The Mustangs are in 11th place, two games out of 8th, which they would need to reach in order to earn a berth in the RRAC tournament in March.
Rivals Collide on Monday
For the Lady Lions, the win sets up a huge clash against their rivals from Texas Wesleyan University (18-3, 10-3). They will meet the Lady Rams on Monday, January 31, in the Sheaffer Center. The game is set for a 5:30pm jumpball.
In their first meeting, a 59-56 SAGU win, the Rams were outboarded, and struggled from the perimeter (6-of-23), and allowed the Lions to set the pace of the game. They led 56-55, when SAGU had two chances to take the lead in the closing seconds. Bruner was fouled after a drive and dish by Jefferson, and converted a pair of pressure-packed free throws with 1.9 seconds to play.
Jones intercepted the inbounds pass, was also fouled, and tossed in two of her 21 points. The Lions made only eleven turnovers and were able to limit several Wesleyan players who normally produce more points.
Rams hold one game lead in series
The history between the two schools reveals that TWU has an 11-10 lead, though Southwestern has taken the last two. A year ago the teams split during the regular season, with the visiting team winning both games. They met a third time, in the RRAC semi-finals, where the Lions slipped past the Rams, 74-70, in overtime.