Getting it Done: Lady Lions at Year's End
Jones, Hawkins are Statistical Leaders
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University women's basketball team maximize their talents with a defense that is a tough to tame as the train in "Unstoppable," the movie. For the third straight season their effective zone defense is the defining strength of their team.
By shackling opposing offenses, SAGU continues to be a national leader in yielding points reluctantly. SAGU's multiple zone packages and timely applied traps keep enemy guards as nervous as longtail cats in a room filled with rocking chairs.
Coach Arlon Beadles' squad is surrendering only 56 points per game, which is again in the Top 20 nationally. It is one of the main reasons the Lady Lions are 9-3 at the holiday break. This season they are not alone among the Red River Athletic Conference. Texas Wesleyan University (11-1), LSU-Shreveport (4-6) and Bacone College (10-0) all have proven stingier than SAGU in the early going.
Fortunately for the Purple Pride, their offense has added some new wrinkles while mixing in several new players. The team is averaging about 63 points per game, but has proven especially effective in pressure situations. They moved up seven spots in the most recent NAIA Coaches Poll, from #38 to #31, by delivering points in the clutch.
At the holiday break the Lady Lions have shown their trademarks; defense and balanced scoring. Six players are ranking in the Top 20 in the RRAC, though only one makes the NAIA top list.
Here is an individual report card:
Chelsea Jones, Sr, Forward
Chelsea Jones (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian), a 5-foot-8, senior appears in 10 Red River categories as well as four separate national statistical departments. The 2009-10 All-American leads SAGU in scoring by pouring in 16.7 ppg. That is 4th in the RRAC and 34th in the NAIA.
Jones is the fifth best shooter in the league, making almost 42% of her field goal attempts. However, outside the three-point arc she is as hot as a four-alarm fire. The small forward has connected on 35 of her 73 tries for a sizzling 48% which leads the RRAC and rates #12 in the nation. Last season she led the nation in 3-point accuracy. She is making 2.92 triples per game, a figure that is second best in the conference and #11 in the country.
Jones is stroking free throws, 37-of-52, at a 71% success rate (7th in RRAC), and is credited with 3.17 steals per game. Her thefts position her 2nd in the conference and #16 in the NAIA. When it comes to rebounding, she is grabbing 5.9 per game, ranking 19th in the RRAC. Her 0.50 blocks per contest is twelfth best in the league.
Her assist to turnover ratio ranks 19th, making 1.07 more assists per game than miscues. Her two double-doubles is 13th in the RRAC.
Stephanie Hawkins, Senior, Guard
A 5-foot-5 senior, Stephanie Hawkins (DeSoto, Tx / DeSoto HS) is second to Jones in scoring, tossing in 10.7 ppg; 25th in the RRAC. She has drained 73% of her FT's (40-of-55); 5th in the RRAC, and is 3rd in the league with a team-leading 3.7 assists per outing.
Hawkeye in 9th in the conference in steals (2.42 spg) and 10th in assist-to-turnover ratio with a +1.33. She is making the same percentage, 37%, of her overall shots as well as her launches beyond the barrier (9-of-24). The point guard was especially effective in the 68-66 overtime win over NCAA Division I Texas State, when she rattled home 22 points.
Heather Jefferson, Senior, Guard
Heather Jefferson (Conroe, Tx / Conroe HS) has had history of slow starts before heating up. This season has proven to be no exception! The 5'6 guard is known for the tenacity of a cornered badger. Averaging 9.4 ppg and 4.3 rebounds, she can fill a stat sheet with her solid floor game.
Jefferson is the club's most accurate shooter, making good on 47% of her attempts. She is tied with Hawkins for third on the team in trifectas with nine. Jefferson has been coming on of late on the charity stripe, tossing in 26-of-37 (70%). She's 10th in the Red River in steals, picking pockets 2.25 times per game. She's fifth in assists, averaging 3.5 per contest. The highly competitive guard is 20th in assist-to-turnover ratio with a +1.05.
Jirah Rodriguez, Freshman, Forward
Freshman forward Jirah Rodriguez (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS) has stepped into the starting line-up and filled a major void. She is scoring at a nine points per game clip and is third in rebounds by yanking down 5.33 caroms per game.
The 5-foot-9 product of the "Live Music Capital of the World," Rodriguez has been a hit on offense. She is sinking 45% of her shots, 47% of her three-point attempts, and 67% from the foul line. She already has her first collegiate double-double and a high game of 19 points.
Gabrielle Bruner, Junior, Forward
Gabby Bruner (Peaster, Tx / Peaster HS) is also a new frontline starter for SAGU. The forward is 8th in the RRAC with three double-doubles (reaching double figures in two separate categories). Her team-leading 8.3 rebounds per game norm places her sixth in the conference.
As a freshman the 5'9 baseline performer averaged 2.9 boards per game. She improved to 3.9 last season before doubling this, her junior campaign. Bruner has ripped down 10+ boards on five occasions, including 13 in the huge road win at Texas Wesleyan.
Bruner (BREW-nur) is converting 44% from the field and 51% from the foul line (18-of-35). But it was her two FT's with one second left in the game that gave SAGU a 57-56 lead over TWU. She netted 63% (33-of-52) from the foul line last winter. Bruner is scoring 7.1 ppg, and averaging 1.09 assists and 1.64 steals per game.
Coming to the Rescue; Harris, Hankins
The two primary reserves have been Rachel Harris (Joshua, Tx / Bethesda Christian) and Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS).
Harris is scoring 4.3 ppg, mostly as a three-point sniper. She has knocked down 14-of-33 (42%), and all four of her free throw tries. She is a brainy guard who averages 1.5 assists and is very reliable against the press.
Hankins, a 5'11 center with a shooter's touch and range, has wristed 46% of her 41 shots, while averaging 3.5 ppg. Her 3.7 rebounds is likely the main need in her role off the bench.
Three Bucketeers Who Could Matter
Three other players on the roster could see more opportunities as the season develops. Junior MacKenzie McDowell (Ft. Worth, Tx / Calvary Christian) is a 5'8 guard who can drop the trey without flinching. Andrea Lugo (San Antonio, Tx / Somerset HS) is a penetrating dime-dropper at point guard.
Should junior center Shaquita Roberts (San Antonio, Tx / Byron Steele HS) be activated in January, Team Lioness could rise as a serious title contender. When healthy, the 6'1 post player is the best shot blocker in the Red River. Roberts swatted 99 shots as a freshman, the fourth best in the nation.
A lingering calf injury reduced her playing time dramatically last year. After earning 29 minutes as a freshman, she appeared in only seven minutes per game in 2009-10, sitting out 13 games. Still, she managed to reject 24 shots. Shaq has yet to be cleared to play this year. If she is anywhere near full capacity, Roberts could be the X-factor for SAGU.
SAGU Top 5 Statistical Leaders
Scoring Points Per Game
Jones 16.7, Hawkins 10.7, Jefferson 9.4, Rodriguez 9.0, Bruner 7.1
Jefferson .470, Hankins .463, Rodriguez .448, Bruner .441, Jones .416
Jones .479, Rodriguez .471, Harris .424, Hawkins .375, Jefferson .310
Free Throw Percentage
Harris 1.000, Hawkins .727, Jones .712, Jefferson .703, Rodriguez .667
Rebounds Per Game
Bruner 8.27, Jones 5.92, Rodriguez 5.33, Jefferson 4.33, Hankins 3.75
Assists Per Game
Hawkins 3.67, Jefferson 3.50, Jones 2.67, Harris 1.50, Rodriguez 1.17
Steals Per Game
Jones 3.17, Hawkins 2.42, Jefferson 2.25, Bruner 1.64, Rodriguez 1.25
Total Blocked Shots
Jones 6, Hankins 3, Rodriguez 2, Jefferson 2, Bruner 1
Bruner 30 (2.73 per game), Jones 29, Jefferson 25, Rodriguez 24, Hawkins 23
Minutes Per Game (Top 10)
Jones 31.0, Bruner 29.4, Jefferson 28.2, Rodriguez 28.2, Hawkins 26.8, Hankins 16.7, Harris 15.8, McDowell 6.1, Lugo 4.8, Melissa Giles 3.0