The Southern women entered the weekend with only one conference loss, a head-scratcher at Grambling in which the Jaguars gave up 92 points.
The Tigers almost got Southern again Saturday afternoon.
Rallying from a game-long deficit that ballooned to 16 points early in the second half, Grambling pushed the Jaguars into a pair of overtime periods before failing to get off a shot on its final possession.
Southern survived for an 83-81 win before 2,912 fans at the F.G. Clark Activity Center, protecting its place atop the Southwestern Athletic Conference standings.
“We fought for our lives in this game. There’s no excuse for that when get up 15 points,” Southern coach Sandy Pugh said. “We’ve got to close games out. I was very disappointed in our effort.”
Had they completed a season sweep of Southern (9-12, 9-1), the Tigers (4-18, 2-8) would have left Baton Rouge responsible for its rival’s only two conference losses.
Joanna Miller, who lit up Southern for 21 points in a 92-76 victory at Grambling last month, would have once again been largely responsible.
Miller carried Grambling back from a 49-33 deficit with 12:31 remaining, doing much of her damage driving the lane but also going 4-of-9 from 3-point range. She finished with a game-high 32 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
It appeared Miller would give Grambling a chance to pull off the win on the final possession of the second overtime.
Receiving an inbound pass with 1.5 seconds left, Miller passed on a long 3-pointer and tried to dribble herself into better position. The clock expired before she got a shot off.
The largest crowd of the season celebrated as the Jaguars picked up their seventh straight win.
But even Pugh knew Southern was lucky to survive.
“Once we got the big lead, we thought it was going to be easy and stopped playing,” she said.
Yasmin Fuller had 21 points, and Jasmine Jefferson had 20 to lead five Jaguars in double figures. Lechell Rush finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Southern went up 16-5 in the early going and continued to lead by double figures much of the way.
Grambling took its first lead when Kamiya Burwell converted a three-point play to make it 67-66 with 1:03 to go.
Both teams had their shot at the end of regulation.
Coleman hit the first of two free throws to make it a 69-69 tie, but her second attempt for the go-ahead point rimmed out.
Miller then drove the right side after a timeout, missing the mark as the buzzer sounded.
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