Getting Behind the Lady Lions
Women's Basketball Team Worthy of Support
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The wins continue. No longer viewed as a one-hit wonder, the women's basketball team at Southwestern Assemblies of God University has turned doubters into believers. They earned their first-ever berth in the NAIA national tournament last March and garner votes weekly in the Coaches Poll.
Southwestern edged their rival, Texas Wesleyan (13-2, 5-2), 59-56, on the road by making four free throws in the last two seconds of the game. Two weeks later the Lady Lions knocked off Texas State University, 68-66, in overtime. The Lady Bobcats are an NCAA Division I team.
With a current 12-3 record and a 7-0 mark in the Red River Athletic Conference, the Lady Lions, ranked nationally again, could use a stronger turnout from their fans at home games.
The men's team, who has been playing for decades, traditionally gets great support at home games. As recently as the past ten years, they have played before packed crowds in the Sheaffer Full Life Center.
Women's V-Ball Team Leads the Way
What is encouraging is the story of the SAGU women's volleyball team.
Under Head Coach Hansford Moore, the netters have won the hearts of Southwestern fans, who come to their games in droves. Some observers in the Red River Athletic Conference say the Lady Lions draw the largest, most vocal followers in the league. Of course, the team has won 20 or more games in five of their past six seasons.
Evidently, the adage, "build it and they will come," is true. Now 61-18 during the past three seasons, the Lady Lions welcome that support this season.
Five-Game Homestand begins Tonight!
SAGU opens a five-game home stand this weekend when Huston-Tillotson University comes to town for a 5:30pm game tonight (Jan. 15). The Lady Rams have added a few new players over the holidays and will be a formidable opponent. They knocked off previously unbeaten Bacone College (12-2, 6-2), 72-70, this week.
Don't let their record fool you. The Rams have five players averaging double-figures in points per game, led by Porche Revely. She is averaging 17.7 since joining the team this semester.
On Monday, Jan. 17, Our Lady of the Lake University visits the Sheaffer FLC. The Lady Saints (7-5 overall, 4-3 RRAC) have won six of their last nine games and are one of the league's highest scoring teams at 75 ppg.
Cat Fight Showdown on January 22
Next Saturday, Jan. 22, will be one of the biggest games of the season for Team Lioness. Langston University (11-4, 6-1), the four-time defending RRAC champs will be in the house for a 5:30pm showdown. The Cat Fight will pit them again as first-vs-second.
Southwestern has finished second to Langston in each of the last two seasons, splitting with the LU Lady Lions both years.
Langston came away with a tight, 53-47 triumph in Waxahachie last January. When SAGU topped LU a month later in Oklahoma, 71-61, it was the first time in over four years that Langston dropped a conference home game.
Who Are These Lady Lions?
This year's Purple Pride is led by a trio of seniors; Chelsea Jones (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian), Heather Jefferson (Conroe, Tx / Conroe HS) and Stephanie Hawkins (DeSoto, Tx / DeSoto HS).
Led by veteran Head Coach Arlon Beadles, SAGU's line-up has a pair of forwards - Gabby Bruner (Peaster, Tx / Peaster HS) and Jirah Rodriguez (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS) to go along with guards Jefferson and Hawkins and Jones, their All-American small forward.
Rachel Harris (Joshua, Tx / Bethesda Christian) and Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS) are the top reserves.
The Lady Lions' Trademark M.O.
The team enjoys great camaraderie and chemistry. They play very well in close games, but they hang their hat on their defense.
SAGU is one of the best defensive teams in the nation. The Lady Lions have surrendered between 49-55 points per game for three seasons behind a highly effective package of zone defenses. Their scoring defense ranks #8 in the NAIA. Enemy shooters make only 34% of their shots - rating #10 in the country. Two years ago they yielded just 30% - which was #1 in the nation. They surrendered just 49 ppg, which was second best in the NAIA.
Three years in a row shows this is no accident. No fluke. They are legit.
Their stingy play on one end of the court is complimented by a patient, motion offense that is particularly impressive on the opposite end.
The Lady Lions are #44 in the nation is field goal percentage, making 41% from the field. From beyond the arc their game is even more efficient, stroking trifectas at a 40% success rate, which is fourth best in the nation. Their disciplined style shows up well in their ability to knock down free throws too.
Plus, the team's ability to play defense without being overly physical as well as rebounding fundamentally, they are called for only 14.1 fouls per game. Of 115 teams in Division I of the NAIA, only four commit less personal fouls that Southwestern; William Woods, Southern Wesleyan and Williams Baptist.
Interestingly, of the 15 teams who commit the least fouls, all but one has a winning record, and most have outstanding winning percentages.
SAGU has gone 24-8 and 25-8 the past two years and are riding a nine-game winning streak headed into their game tonight against Tillotson.
Now that they are building a program worthy of attention, attracting a larger fan base is next in line.