Yasmin Fuller helps Southern women turn in complete effort

HOUSTON — With her team struggling and battling injuries, Southern women’s basketball coach Sandy Pugh needed someone to step up during the Jaguars’ Texas road trip.

Junior guard Yasmin Fuller was up to the challenge Thursday night against first-place Texas Southern, helping snap the Tigers’ 15-game winning streak and get the Jaguars, who had lost four of five, back on track.

Fuller scored a game-high 20 points and added four big steals that led to points in the Jaguars’ 55-53 win.

“Yas is a big-time player, and she likes those big-time moments,” Pugh said. “I hadn’t really played her a lot these last few games because she wasn’t practicing good.”

On Thursday, Pugh really didn’t have a choice. With starting guard Adrian Sanders out with a concussion suffered Feb. 23, Fuller started and made the most of her opportunity.

“I think we really came together this week, and we came ready to work,” Fuller said. “This time, we actually listened to Coach, and she stayed positive. I think we built up some momentum, and hopefully we can transfer this over to our next game.”

That next game is 3 p.m. Saturday against Prairie View (13-14, 10-7) at the Williams Nicks Building.

The Jaguars (13-15, 12-5) can clinch the No. 2 seed in the SWAC tournament outright with a victory, while a loss would leave them tied with Mississippi Valley.

With Sanders’ status in question and Laneisha Stephens battling an Achilles injury suffered Thursday, Pugh’s lineup against the Panthers is constantly in motion.

“At this point, I’m just going to play with what I got,” Pugh said. “If they are here, we will put them in there.”

There’s no doubt that Fuller will be a big part of the plan.

“When Adrian went down, we made some changes and reinforced our expectations of Yas,” Pugh said. “We told her, ‘This is your time. It is your shining moment and your chance to prove to us that you are who we thought you were when we signed you.’ ”

Fuller was all over the place Thursday, making steals and then driving the length of the court to score several times. It was her defense that was the most impressive.

“Coach always jokes that I don’t play defense, so I had to come out and surprise her a little bit,” Fuller said.

Added Pugh: “The kid is super quick and does a good job for us. She was recruited by Texas Southern and it came down to us and them, so it was nice to see her come in and do well.”

The Jaguars will try to continue the momentum against the Panthers, a team they beat 60-55 on Jan. 4 in Baton Rouge, led by Kendra Coleman’s 20 points.

Prairie View outlasted Alcorn State 61-59 on Thursday, with Kiara Etienne scoring 18 points and grabbing six rebounds. Latia Williams leads the Panthers in scoring at 13 points per game.

“I look forward to the PV game,” Pugh said. “I think that our kids now have the confidence in their ability. We’ve been doubting ourselves, but (Thursday’s) game is the first time in a long time we came together and played team ball.”