Southern women look for first win of season

It’s been six years since the Southern women’s basketball team got off to such a rough start.

How rough? At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, in their ninth game of the season, the Jaguars will try to grab their first win. It probably won’t come easily.

Southern faces Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J., attempting to pull off a major upset during their swing through the northeastern United States.

The last time the Jaguars opened a season on an eight-game losing streak was 2006-07, and that season didn’t end well.

Southern finished 5-22 overall and eighth in the Southwestern Athletic Conference — a stunningly uncharacteristic year for a team led by coach Sandy Pugh.

In truth, this season hasn’t been all bad. Three of the Jaguars’ losses have been by 10 or fewer points, and of course, some of these early-season games are against teams from the so-called power conferences.

Rutgers certainly fits into that category. By their standard, the Scarlet Knights are off to a so-so start; they’ve used six different starting lineups over their first eight games. They are not ranked in the The Associated Press top 25 — a relative rarity for them under legendary coach Vivian Stringer.

Still, they’re 5-3, and figure to give Southern a tough test.

The Jaguars are coming off a 56-44 loss at Fordham on Monday, a game that was close at times. Southern pulled to within two points in the second half before Fordham broke away during the final 10 minutes.

Scoring has been an issue, even for an SU team that emphasizes defense and halfcourt play. The Jaguars are shooting 34 percent from the floor and have averaged more turnovers per game (16.5) than assists (10.9).

Opponents have also averaged eight more rebounds per game than Southern.

Lechell Rush has been an early bright spot. She scored 13 points in the Fordham loss and leads the team with 6.3 rebounds per game.

Junior guard Adrian Sanders leads the team in scoring at 10.5 points per game, followed by sophomore Kendra Coleman at 9.4 points per game.

The Jaguars will return to Baton Rouge for a Monday game against Southeastern Louisiana — their last home game before SWAC play begins in Jan. 2.