LSUS holds off Lady Lions, 59-51
Winston, Roberts, Rodriguez score in double-figures
SAGU makes first-place Pilots sweat; host Texas College Monday
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- In a game marked by defensive feats, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University women's basketball team fell victim to six straight free throws by LSU-Shreveport in the final 36 seconds for a 59-51 loss on Saturday at the Sheaffer Center.
Tied in first place with Langston University, the Lady Pilots (21-6, 19-2 in RRAC) led for much of the second half but could never put away a determined Southwestern squad.
Trailing by their largest margin, 51-43, when LSUS’ Jennifer Hicks converted a three-point play with 7:14 remaining, the Lady Lions defense stiffened. They held the Pilots to 1-of-6 shooting and forced three turnovers the rest of the way to give themselves a chance to rally.
Jirah Rodriguez (Georgetown Tx / Georgetown HS) spurred a comeback when she scored a pair of baskets, one of them a triple after taking a pass from Shaquita Roberts (San Antonio, Tx / Byron Steele HS) that pulled the Purple to within 53-49 with 1:28 left.
Gabby Bruner (Peaster, Tx / Peaster HS) netted a putback a minute later that got the hosts to within four again at 55-51 before the Pilots salted away the win with free throws.
While the Lady Lions defense was its usual pesky self, the offense struggled to covert down the stretch. Over the final seven minutes they hit just 3-of-12 shots and one-of-four free throws and made a pair of turnovers. Recognize the LSUS defense, ranked #2 in the Red River Athletic Conference (59.3 ppg allowed) and #24 in the NAIA, for keeping the Lady Lions from completing their comeback.
'Coach Speak' by LSUS' Howell
“Anytime you get a win on the road in conference play, you’ll take it,” said Ronnie Howell, LSUS’ ninth year head coach. “Sure, we’d like to have played better. But give SAGU credit. They hung in there and played us tough all night.”
“Southwestern is young and they’ve improved a lot,” Howell added. “They are trying to play their way into the tournament.”
He praised the outside shooting of Nia Winston (Garland, Tx / Panola JuCo, Lakeview Centennial HS), who knocked down a trio of threes and the inside play of Roberts.
“Nia is shooting the three better,” he said, “and they really hurt us early when they were going to Roberts. We had to adjust to her with double-teams. Our team has some very athletic players who are adept at playing different styles and they did well enough for us to win.”
Last month on the Red River, the Lady Pilots rolled to an easy 63-37 defeat of SAGU. The rematch was anything but similar.
Team Lioness held LSUS to 20% shooting (5-of-25) in the second half and 33% for the game (18-55) and outrebounded them by a 36-32 count, including an 11-8 edge on the offensive glass.
Counting only baskets made, LSUS had only a 42-41 margin in points. The free throw line was the difference, where they converted 17-of-22 (77%) to SAGU’s 10-of-16 (62%). Their ability to get the ball inside drew a number of fouls.
The Lady Lions committed just 14 turnovers (LSUS had 11), ten under their average of 24.2. Only Huston-Tillotson (24.3) and Texas College (28.4) make more. It was another sign of SAGU's progress.
First half review
The first half saw the Lady Lions carry the action and the pace while leading until the final six minutes. They led 5-0 on a bankshot trifecta by Okevia Bratchett (Center, Tx / Tenaha HS). Their largest advantage was at 15-9 when Bruner hit Rodriguez in the corner pocket for a 3-ball.
A pair of Winston free throws (she was 5-of-5) and two steals by Andrea Lugo (San Antonio, Tx / Somerset HS), both ending with full-speed layups on the other end, had the Purple Pride on top, 21-16. Lugo assisted a Winston trey for a 24-19 upper hand with 5:54 left in the half.
The Pilots took advantage of several turnovers to go on a 14-4 run that involved two triples, by Christy Willis and Brittany Maddox, for a 33-28 lead. They took a 33-30 lead into the locker room."
"It was extremely frustrating," confessed SAGU's leading scorer Winston (13.6 ppg) after the game. "We would be playing well then we'd make a series of turnovers. We play teams tough, but haven't been able to avoid a few stretches that really hurt ourselves."
"We also fouled too much," she added, "and they never seemed to miss their free throws."
Player Statistics; Roberts has double-double
SAGU placed three in double-digit scoring; Winston 14, Rodriguez 11 and Roberts 10, the latter producing a double-double (her eighth of the season) with a game-high 11 rebounds. The trio made 9-of-10 foul shots. Bruner added seven points, nine boards and blocked a shot.
The Pilots matched with three in double-figures; Meoshi Bradley 14, Sharde (SHAR-day) Henry 13 and Hicks 10. The Lions limited their top scorer, Jenna Diakos (14.2 ppg) to 3-of-14 shooting and a nine-points. Henry and Willis grabbed eight caroms apiece. They now lead the series with SAGU 4-1.
Lady Lions host two of their final three games
On Monday (Feb. 20), the Lions will continue conference play when they host Texas College. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. CST at the Sheaffer Center.
After traveling to Marshall, Texas for a rematch (SAGU won the first game, 63-59) with Wiley College (18-8, 13-7 in RRAC) next Saturday at 2:00pm, SAGU will honor their two seniors in their home finale on Monday, February 27, against St. Thomas. Tina Brown (New Braunfels, Tx / Lifegate Christian) and Bruner will be spotlighted in a special ceremony with head coach Arlon Beadles.