Southern women roll again

The Southern women’s basketball team made short work of their opponent for the second time in three days.

The Jaguars built a 20-point halftime lead and coasted to a 60-44 victory over Alabama State on Monday night in the Clark Activity Center. On Saturday they raced to a 29-point halftime lead in an 81-59 victory against Alabama A&M.

Southern (11-5 and 8-0 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference) hosts Alcorn State on Saturday. The Hornets are 9-8 and 2-4.

It was the fewest points allowed by the Jaguars this season. The previous low came in a 63-56 victory against Southeastern Louisiana on Nov. 11.

It also was the fewest points scored by ASU in a regulation game this season. They beat Samford 44-40 in overtime on Dec. 4 and their lowest point total in regulation had come in a 75-49 loss at Mississippi State on Dec. 7 and a 52-49 loss at Alcorn State last Saturday.

“We had the mentality that this team was going to fight and wasn’t going to lay down for us,” Southern guard Yasmin Fuller said. “So we came out hyped and motivated.”

Adrian Sanders led Southern with 12 points, Kendra Coleman scored 10, eight below her average. Jasmine Jefferson had just two points, 11 below her average, and three rebounds, five below her team-leading average in 15 minutes before fouling out. Eight Jaguars scored in single digits. No Hornet reached double figures.

“Jas and Kendra never really got going,” Southern coach Sandy Pugh said. “That’s a big, big piece and that was the one negative. I thought the positive was other kids stepped up and filled in that void and did a good job.”

Southern led 39-19 at halftime and scored the first seven points of the second half, but created an opportunity for ASU to get back into the game.

The Jaguars went more than nine minutes without a field goal and put the Hornets in the bonus less than seven minutes into the second half.

ASU did little with the opportunity, though, making only their of their first 14 free throws in the half, including two missed front ends of one-and-ones.

The Hornets got within 20 with more than 12 minutes remaining, but Cortnei Purnell answered with a layup.

ASU got within 17 with seven minutes left, but Sanders banked in a 3-pointer from the wing. Two free throws each by Yasmine Nelson and Britney Washington gave Southern a 58-34 lead.

The Hornets finished the game on a 10-2 run that merely made the final margin smaller.

Pugh called the second half “nightmarish” after the Jaguars shot just 28 percent from the floor.

They made just 15-of-32 free throws for the game, but ASU made just 17-of-36.

“We’ve got to finish the game the way we started it,” Sanders said. “We went out and we went hard, then in the second half we slacked off a little bit. We’ve got to do what we need to do from the jump straight through to the finish.”

Southern, which held Alabama A&M without a field goal for nearly the first five minutes Saturday, didn’t allow ASU’s first field goal until 4:05 had elapsed.

But the Jaguars couldn’t build much of a lead because they made just two of their first seven shots and turned the ball over four times in the first five minutes.

Brittney Smith made two free throws and a layup to pull the Hornets even before they went ice cold. They made just two of their first nine shots and Southern gradually opened a comfortable lead.

Jefferson’s 10-footer broke the tie and Fuller’s 3-pointer completed a 13-3 run that gave the Jaguars a 20-10 lead.

Danielle Gazaway’s jumper ended a stretch of eight minutes in which ASU had just one field goal.

Purnell’s layup and two free throws by Zeneka Willix gave Southern a 24-12 lead. Antoinette Brown answered with a jumper from the lane with 4:57 left, but that was the Hornets’ last field goal of the half.

Layups by Kenidi Robinson and Fuller helped the Jaguars maintain a double-digit lead before they finished the half with a rush.

Brittney Wright made two free throws for ASU, but Fuller and Washington made 3-pointers and Coleman converted a three-point play as Southern closed with a 10-1 run to take a 39-19 halftime lead.

The lead would have been bigger if the Jaguars had not struggled at the free-throw line. They made 10-of-24 free throws, though their field-goal percentage improved to 44.8 (13-of-29) after the slow start.

Southern held ASU to just five field goals in 22 attempts (22.7 percent) and the Hornets missed all six of their 3-pointers.

The Jaguars took better care of the basketball late in the half and their 10 first-half turnovers were two less than ASU committed.

Southern’s superior depth showed as 10 players scored in the first half. Smith was the only Hornet to score more than two points, finishing the half with six.