Winston, Roberts propel Lady Lions to 78-54 rout
Seniors shine; Frosh trio charges ahead
SAGU to host No. 3 OKC on Monday night
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WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Saturday was a case of "Back to the Future" for the women’s basketball team from Southwestern Assemblies of God University.
Three freshmen combined to score 38 points, making the prospects of what’s to come very hopeful.
But against the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma it was the play of a pair of savvy seniors that drove SAGU to a much needed 78-54 triumph at the Sheaffer Center.
SAGU improves to 8-7 overall and 2-3 in the Sooner Athletic Conference. USAO drops to 3-5 and 2-3.
Nia Winston (Garland, Tx / Lakeview Centennial HS ), the leading scorer in the SAC, poured in 24 points to carry the offense. She tickled the twine on four triples, converted all four of her attempted free throws and registered three steals.
In the middle was Shaquita Roberts (San Antonio, Tx / Byron Steele HS ). Actually, she was all over the lane, gobbling up eleven rebounds and blocking three shots. It seemed like she rejected twice that many!
Her impact on the game was huge. The threat of her swatting shots likely led to USAO players altering other attempts.
SAGU, with one of the NAIA’s most effective field goal defenses, held the Drovers to 29% accuracy (14 of 48). Much of that came after a first half in which the Lady Lions dominated by rolling to a 45-19 lead.
The hosts owned the boards, grabbing 46 and allowing 29. They forced 20 turnovers. The end result was a whopping 65 to 48 advantage in shots tried.
Arlon Beadles, SAGU’s veteran head coach, was full of praise for the team’s interior players.
“The key to our winning was our rebounding,” he said immediately after the game. “Out-boarding them 46-29 was the difference.”
“Shaquita continues to be very active inside. She had 11 rebounds. In fact,” he added, “all of our posts (centers) played well.”
The Lady Lions had permitted each of their last four foes to win the boards, by a combined 184-152 total. It led to three losses.
The performance in the Saturday matinee was very gratifying.
“It was a great team victory,” acknowledged Beadles. “It was also nice to see our freshmen have success. (Alexis) McAfee, (Laken) Ward and (Charity) Page all had their best game of the season.”
He stated the effort was very timely, considering “…we will face two of the NAIA best teams next week. So, we needed this tonight.”
Two years ago Winston was the Lady Lions’ go-to point producer, averaging 14 points per game. Roberts led the nation in blocked shots with 114. She pulled down 10.3 rebounds that season.
Both players missed last year, so their return to form was timely tonic for the Purple Pride.
Freshmen Ward (Cleveland, Ark / Wonderview HS ) and Page (Nacogdoches, Tx / Nacogdoches HS ), whose considerable skills could anchor this squad in the future; both competed with a coming-of-age confidence.
Ward tossed in 16 points and laid claim to nine caroms. Page bagged a dozen points on 5-of-7 shooting and gripped five boards.
As for McAfee (DeSoto, Tx / DeSoto HS ), also a freshman, the cat-quick guard made 10 points and led the club with three assists.
Tied at 8-8 following a three-pointer by USAO’s Paige Pulliam, the Lady Lions broke out during a 17-2 run over the next nine minutes.
Three times in the scoring spree the Pride powered in putback baskets; Ward had two, Roberts the other. Winston accounted for six of the points, including a steal she converted into an easy deuce.
At the half the Lions were shooting 46% to the Drovers’ 25%.
Ward tacked on six quick points to start the second half as the lead swelled to 53-19 just three minutes into the second stanza.
Two foul shots by Page gave SAGU their largest lead, 71-31, with 6:49 to play.
Roberts vetoed back-to-back shots in one sequence, and then got the outlet pass to Taylor Hill (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS ). She fed a smoking Winston, who drove inside the lane on the right side. She zipped a pass to Jirah Rodriguez (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS ) in the left corner.
Rodriguez buried a trey to make it 31-14.
The second half started as Hill connected with Rodriguez for a layup in transition; 49-19.
Following an attempted field goal that was 'edited' by Page, Winston knocked down a bank shot 3-ball. SAGU led 64-31.
Down the stretch were a pair of well executed moments; Bethany Krock (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian ) fired an off-the-Windex triple before Drea Lugo (San Antonio, Tx / Somerset HS ) sent a laser inside to Page, who scored on a spin move.
National spotlight on Lady Lions on Monday, Thursday
SAGU will meet No. 3 ranked Oklahoma City University (8-1 / 5-0 in SAC) on Monday night at 6:00pm (CST). Originally scheduled for December, the contest was rescheduled due to an ice storm.
The game will be broadcast in HD by SAGU Sports Live. The pre-game show comes on the air at 5:45pm.
SAGU hosts No. 16 John Brown University (11-3 / 3-2 in SAC) on Thursday, also at 6:00pm.
The next five dates for the Lady Lions will be on the road. Thursday (Jan. 16) will be the last home game until February 8.