Lady Lions Outlast Bacone, 71-68
SAGU Never Trails, Holds Off Warriors
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Southwestern Assemblies of God University's women's basketball team, displaying a fiery competitive drive and an elusive spirit, outlasted a hungry Bacone College team for a 71-68 triumph on Monday night.
Having dropped consecutive league games and sole possession of the lead in the Red River Athletic Conference, SAGU faced a resilient Bacone team that rallied but could never pass the Lady Lions. Southwestern, now 14-5 overall and 9-2 in the RRAC, staved off the Lady Warriors (13-4, 7-4), continuing their mastery over the Okies from Muskogee for the fifth straight time.
Team Lioness never trailed, yet could never put away Bacone, whose only losses during the first round of the RRAC season were similar setbacks. BC was defeated by Langston by four, Huston-Tillotson by two, Texas Wesleyan by ten and by three to SAGU.
Summary of Second Half
The Lady Lions built a 12-point advantage midway through the opening half, and were on top by 10, 49-39, with 10:53 remaining. But the Warriors took advantage of seven turnovers in a span of two and one-half minutes to knot the score at 51-51 on a three-pointer by Ariel Resendez.
Southwestern regained their composure and began breaking the full court pressure the Warriors had applied, and started executing their halfcourt offense. The 'Cats seized control of the lead for the remainder of the game.
Bacone, coached by former SAGU head coach Robbie Shay, would fight to the finish. Each time they would close the gap, one of three seniors would rise to the occasion for the Purple Pride. Southwestern used clutch free throws by Chelsea Jones (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian) and driving layups by Stephanie Hawkins (DeSoto, Tx / DeSoto HS) and Heather Jefferson (Conroe, Tx / Conroe HS) to hold the Tribe at bay.
Game's Biggest Play
The game's pivotal moment came with just over three minutes left. Noelani Gi sank a pair of foul shots to slice a six-point SAGU lead down to 63-61. An unforced turnover gave the Warriors a chance to seize the lead. But Kevelle Harmon's try from beyond the arc missed the mark. Michelle Simmons grabbed the carom in the paint and missed a putback when defended by Jefferson.
Jefferson yanked down the rebound and set up the Lions offense. As the shot clock was winding down, Jones, with two players guarding her on the perimeter, knocked down a daring, 3-point dagger. The lead was at 66-61 with 1:57 showing on the Sheaffer Full Life Center clock.
Bacone missed several shots and were forced to foul. Southwestern responded as Jirah Rodriguez (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS) connected twice and Jefferson made three of six to maintain the lead. Simmons swished a triple with one second remaining to close the Warrior scoring.
Lady Lions Player Totes
Jones led SAGU in scoring with a game-high 18 points, including four treys and a six-of-six effort on the charity stripe. She overcame both one-of-five first half shooting and foul trouble. The Lions had two starters foul out, and Jones and Hawkins finished with foul personals. Jefferson and Hawkins bucketed 16 and 14 points respectively.
Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS) netted eight points and nine boards in her first collegiate conference start before fouling out. Rodriguez added seven points and five rebounds. Rachel Harris (Joshua, Tx / Bethesda Christian) added five and Gabby Bruner (Peaster, Tx / Peaster HS) totaled three points and three boards. She, too, was disqualified for reaching the foul limit.
Bacone's top point producer was Gi (pronounced Jee). The 5'7 junior guard from San Francisco tossed in 16 points. After connecting on 5-of-11 shots for 15 points in the first half, she seldom saw the ball after intermission, going 0-for-3 from the field. The Warriors' leading scorer this season, her first field goal attempt in the second frame came after 11:56 as a bystander.
Simmons added 15, all after halftime. Myriah Hadnot accounted for 11 and Harmon netted 10.
Bacone helped their cause by hitting 11-of-28 three point shots and 19-of-24 free throws. They also owned a 43-32 margin in rebounds, led by 14 from Simmons. Southwestern's effective zone defense wrung 26 turnovers from the Big Red while limiting them to 32% shooting.
Southwestern made 42% of their shots, and 24-of-33 free throws.
First Half Highlights
The game was tied at 7-7 when the Lions went on a 14-2 run. Hawkins and Rodriguez jump-started the surge with baskets before Harris dialed up a long-distance triple with an assist from Hawkins. Rodriguez nailed a trifecta from the corner when Bruner sent her a kickout pass. Bruner cashed in a Jones miss and Harris wristed a midrange jumper for the twelve-point bulge, 21-9, with 10:12 left in the half.
Later, after Jones picked Simmons' pocket, Jefferson was credited with an assist when Jones 'tickled the twine from behind the three-point line' for a 32-24 lead. A pair of triples by Gi drew the Warriors to within 36-32 at intermission.
Coach Arlon Beadles praised his team for their hard work in stopping their two game skid and for overcoming turnovers to beat a solid Bacone team. "I'm proud of this team," he said afterward. "They had a few moments in the game where they didn't handle the press very well, but they never stopped battling."
He spoke of the effort of both Hawkins and Jefferson against the press and the play of Hankins. "She is earning more playing time," he said of the 5'11 freshman center. "Sierra has really developed and almost produced a double-double."
Lions Thursday Menu: Tiger
The Lady Lions have two more games this week, beginning with a home tilt on Thursday, January 27. Paul Quinn College (3-17, 0-11 RRAC) visits for a 5:30pm tipoff. The Lady Tigers strength is rebounding, where they average ten more boards per game than SAGU.
Road Trip to Face the Hobbs Squad
Two days later, Southwestern will face the University of the Southwest (5-12, 3-8 RRAC) in Hobbs, New Mexico, a 365-mile trek. The game starts with a 2:00pm (Mountain Standard Time) jump-ball. The Lady Mustangs have a winning home record and have won their past two RRAC games, averaging 75 ppg in victories over Texas College (12-7) and Jarvis Christian (7-9).
Injury Update: Shaq will be back!
Shaquita Roberts (San Antonio, Tx / Byron Steele HS), the 6'1 junior center, had successful surgery this past week on the leg injury that idled her for most of the past two seasons. She is expected to make a full recovery!
As a freshman she led the Red River in blocked shots with 99, a total that ranked her #4 in the NAIA. Shaq averaged 7.3 rebounds on a SAGU team that went 24-8 that season. She has two years of eligibility remaining.