Southern women to test depth against Grambling

The Southern women’s basketball team will play its third game in five days Sunday when the Jaguars face rival Grambling at the Hobdy Assembly Center.

Southern coach Sandy Pugh hopes her team’s great depth will help keep Southern’s legs fresh.

“I think our depth is tremendous,” Pugh said. “I go 10-12 deep every night.”

Southern’s bench has shown its worth in a fast start to Southwestern Athletic Conference play.

In a 63-57 victory over Texas Southern, 13 players saw action for the Jaguars, with nine of them playing double-digit minutes. Then, in a 60-55 win against Prairie View, 12 players saw action and seven of them played double-digit minutes.

Now comes another short turnaround and the annual trip to Grambling, where the Southern women — like the Southern men — have often struggled.

Despite their status as a perennial SWAC title contender, Pugh’s teams have lost four straight at Grambling and nine of their past 10.

The Jaguars lost 60-59 there last year.

Southern (3-10, 2-0) makes the trip this time with a victory over preseason SWAC favorite Prairie View under its belt and a share of first place in the league standings. The Jaguars have not trailed in the second half in their first two league games.

“It doesn’t guarantee us the No. 1 spot, but we’re really playing well,” Southern guard Kendra Coleman said of the early success.

“Other teams are going to have to come at us pretty hard.”

Coleman scored 20 points Friday to lead Southern in scoring for the second straight game.

Her status appeared uncertain when she hobbled off the court late in the first half after taking a knee to the thigh. But she returned to play a team-high 35 minutes and help hold off Prairie View’s comeback attempt.

“The kids need to know Kendra’s going to be there because she just provides a mental lift for this team on the offensive end,” Pugh said.

But Pugh was equally pleased with her bench’s effort.

She singled out Brittany Washington and Joslyn Allen, who continue to give Southern a boost with their defense.

“Sometimes it’s hard when you’re used to being a scorer in high school and now your team is asking you to just guard,” Pugh said. “My hat’s off to those kids because they were really difference-makers.”

Grambling (1-12, 0-2) looks for its first SWAC win after losing at Alabama A&M and Alabama State to start league play.

Choudrant native Patricia Cage-Bibbs is back on the Grambling sideline, where she won 244 games from 1984-97 and led GSU to six SWAC tournament titles. She has 502 career wins.