Southern women eye faster tempo against Alabama A&M

The Southern women’s basketball team is hoping to get its offense going when it hosts Alabama A&M on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. in the F.G. Clark Activity Center, and the game will air on CST.

The Jaguars (9-5) remained undefeated in Southwestern Conference play at 6-0 when they won 76-67 at Mississippi Valley State on Wednesday. Although they matched their league-leading scoring total, 30 of their points, including the final 12, came on free throws, and their last field goal came with nearly five minutes left.

“We definitely didn’t get the ball out and run or get our transition game running like I’d like to see,” coach Sandy Pugh said. “I thought they controlled the tempo of the game for most of the game, up until last four or five minutes. That’s definitely something we’ll be looking at going forward — pushing the tempo.”

Although the Jaguars managed to win away from home despite playing at their opponent’s preferred pace, Pugh said it’s imperative that her team dictate their tempo.

“We want to play fast,” she said. “We don’t want to play slow and deliberate. We can play slow and deliberate, but we’re better suited to getting it up and down with our numbers and what we’re capable of doing. We want to get up and pressure the ball and push the tempo and get out in transition. That’s what we do.”

Southern appears to have an opportunity to increase its scoring against the Bulldogs (3-12, 1-4). A&M is last in the SWAC in field goal-percentage defense (44.9) and ninth in scoring defense (79.1) and 3-point defense (36.5). They’re also last in rebounding margin (minus-8.9).

Pugh said she would like to see her post players be more assertive.

“They’re not dominating,” she said. “They’re not imposing their will on the block. They’re not flashing to the open gaps. Even when they caught the ball down there, we were kind of tentative with the basketball.”

Center Jasmine Jefferson, who has been hampered by a sprained ankle, had 11 points on 3-for-9 shooting against Valley, but she grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.

The Jaguars have had balanced scoring: Kendra Coleman averages 18.6 points, Jefferson 13.1 and Adrian Sanders 11.4. When those three shot a combined 11-for-32 against MVSU, Yasmin Fuller and Britney Washington came off the bench to score 12 points each, shooting a combined 6-for-13,

“Everybody on this team is understanding their roles at this point,” Fuller said. “So if somebody’s not stepping up, we’ve got each other’s backs.”

A&M, which is 0-9 on the road, is coming off a 92-45 loss at Alabama State last Saturday.