Four in Double Digits no match for LU's Madden, Gray
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Despite placing four players in double figures and committing only ten turnovers, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University women’s basketball team were defeated by Langston University, 61-56, in a battle of the league’s two first-place teams.
Langston (14-4, 9-1 in Red River), the #18 ranked team in the nation and four-time defending champions of the Red River Athletic Conference, used a solid defensive effort and big play by their two offensive stars to take their first lead of the RRAC this season. It was their eight consecutive win.
For the host SAGU (13-5, 8-2 RRAC), rated #35 in the latest NAIA Coaches Poll, it was their second straight setback after a school-record ten game winning streak. The game was tied twice, and in spite of never leading, SAGU stayed within shooting distance of the lead until the closing minute.
The visitors played a very effective, physical, man-to-man defense that limited SAGU to 32% shooting, which included an 0-for-6 effort beyond the arc. Southwestern had led the RRAC in both categories. In fact, SAGU connected on 67 of 126 three-point attempts (53%) through their first nine league games. Texas Wesleyan University held them to their previous low (four) during a 59-56 SAGU win in Fort Worth.
Southwestern hurt themselves by missing 14 shots or layups in the paint, including four in the final six minutes when they were trailing by four.
SAGU Scoring Leaders
The Purple Pride were led in scoring by three seniors; Stephanie Hawkins (DeSoto, Tx / DeSoto HS) had 14 points, Heather Jefferson (Conroe, Tx / Conroe HS) 13 and Chelsea Jones (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian) with 12. The trio struggled to find rhythm, combining to make 10-of-34 shots.
A major bright spot was the performance of forward Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS). The 5’11 freshman scored 10 points and yanked down nine boards, four of them on the offensive glass, during thirty-one minutes. She made five of her eight shot attempts, drawing the praise of Head Coach Arlon Beadles during a post-game interview on SAGU Sports Live.
Jefferson was the only other player for Southwestern to factor in the rebound battle, grabbing six. Langston had a 37-31 edge on the board.
Langston Dynamic Duo
The Blue Cats of LU, whose lone Red River defeat came at Texas College, received huge efforts by their top two players, seniors Stephanie Madden and Ashlea Gray.
Madden dominated inside, making eight of nine shots in a 22-point effort. The 6-foot-1 native of Bakersfield, California claimed 15 boards and had a double-double by halftime, when Langston led 33-25. She transferred to LU from Trinity Valley Community College (Athens, Tx).
In support of Madden, Gray added 21 points, netting 8-of-18 shots, including three triples. The duo are the highest scoring pair in the RRAC.
Game Summary: Langston holds off Southwestern
Gabby Bruner (Peaster, Tx / Peaster HS) made a pair of free throws with 6:05 left in the game, when SAGU trailed 52-47. Following a Langston turnover, Hankins missed a jumper in the lane. The Lady Langstons rebounded and zoomed downcourt. Before Team Purp could set up their defense, point guard Jaimee Harry spotted Gray open on the left wing. She nailed a decisive three-pointer for an eight point margin.
A slashing layup by Hawkins was answered by Madden. She caught a pass from Harry and powered in a bucket with 3:57 remaining. Hankins cashed in a Bruner miss to give SAGU a chance at 57-53, with 2:54 remaining on the game clock.
After Madden converted two free throws; she was 6-of-8 on the line, Jefferson drove to the rack for a basket (1:53) to keep the hosts within 59-55. But they would not score again.
Game's Key Moment
Langston’s defense stiffened, forcing back-to-back turnovers to ice the game. None were larger than a play that effectively shut the door on a SAGU comeback.
Jones, the Southwestern All-American forward, took a pass on the wing and beat Harry with a bold move around a screen at the high post. Just as Jones was knifing through the lane, wide open, Harry reached from behind and tipped the ball away. It went directly to Madden. Gray salted away the victory with two foul shots.
SAGU: Ixnay on the Langston press
Langston built their largest lead of the game at 46-33 on a Deanne Adger trey with 12:03 to go. They went for the jugular by applying a full court press.
Earlier in the week SAGU coughed up 25 turnovers against an Our Lady of the Lake press. They were well prepared for it on Saturday. It coerced zero miscues and was nullified quickly. An 8-2 run by Southwestern in ninety seconds sent the press packing.
The remainder of the game was hard-fought. SAGU would never die. Langston couldn’t put them away until the final buzzer.
Langston’s defense averages nearly 21 fouls per game. They were whistled for 23 on Saturday, with SAGU netting 21-of-24 free throws as a result. The hosts, whose effective zone defense forced 17 turnovers, commits just 14 infractions an outing. They were called for 19. LU stroked 16-of-24 from the charity stripe.
Langston and SAGU were tied midway through the first half, at 10-all. The visitors went on an 11-1 run to take the lead for good. By recess they held a 33-25 upper hand, with Madden and Gray scoring 14 and 12 respectively. Southwestern was led by Jones, who had eight by the half. LU controlled the boards, 19-12, with SAGU starters accounting for only four caroms.
Afterwards, Langston Head Coach Jerome Willis was pleased with his team’s effort. “We’re glad to come here and get a victory,” he said. “It is always tough here. Their zone is so tough for us, and the crowd here makes it a challenge.”
“But I was very satisfied with our team,” he continued. “We did what we do and both Stephanie and Ashlea led the way.”
Southwestern had no answer for Madden.
“Madden is the best player in the league at the low post,” Coach Beadles said. “She was a force tonight.”
Beadles was especially gratified by the way his team bounced back from their loss to Our Lady earlier in the week. His Lady Lions showed no ill-effect at all from the defeat, especially the way SAGU lost. OLLU was red-hot, making 18 threes, while SAGU made an uncharacteristic 25 turnovers.
On Deck for SAGU: Bacone College on Monday
Southwestern will need a similar endeavor on Monday (January 24), when they host a very improved Bacone College (13-3, 7-3 Red River) team. Game time is set for 5:30pm (CST).
The Warriors whipped Paul Quinn College, 78-67 on Saturday. BC was 11-18 last winter. They are coached by Robbie Shay, the former SAGU head coach. The game will be available on video stream (in HD) by SAGU Sports Live. The pre-game show, hosted by Clay Scarborough, is on the air at 5:20pm.
The SAGU Lady Lions will begin the second half of the RRAC season on Thursday, January 27, when the Paul Quinn Lady Tigers visit the Sheaffer Full Life Center.