Jaguars’ defense spurs rally over Southeastern

Junior forward Jasmine Jefferson scored a team-high 15 points, and Adrian Sanders chipped in eight points off the bench as Southern (2-0) defeated Southeastern 63-56 Monday night at the F.G. Clark Activity Center.

The Jaguars posted a 38-point second half after scoring just 25 in the first, as their depth wore down visiting Southeastern (1-1). Southern had a 34-7 advantage in bench points.

“When you have numbers, you definitely want to use them to your advantage,” Southern coach Sandy Pugh said.

“Tonight we wanted them to have to extend their bench”

In the first half, Southeastern jumped out to a 10-6 lead on the shooting of junior point guard Elizabeth Styles and the low post presence of Nanna Pool, who each scored four points through the game’s first four minutes.

The two teams battled back and forth from that point, exchanging baskets, until the under-four-minute timeout when Southeastern went on an 8-2 run to close the half and take a 33-23 lead into the locker room.

In a peculiar move, Pugh took out her two star players, guard Kendra Coleman and forward Jasmine Jefferson, at the 18:42 mark of the second half with Southern trailing 35-25.

“Jefferson has an injured foot,” Pugh said. “She asked to be taken out of the game. And Kendra wasn’t playing any defense. And that’s a no-no. We go hard, take the shots that are the best shots in rhythm ... that’s her job. But you have to guard somebody. I wasn’t really happy with her defensive effort.”

Perhaps the rest had a positive effect on Jefferson as the Jaguars clawed their way back into the contest after being ignited by an offensive put-back by the forward, sparking Southern on a 13-0 run to take a 41-35 lead with just under 14 minutes remaining.

The Jaguars opened up a 49-39 advantage with just under eight minutes remaining and used their defense, which forced 26 turnovers.

Southern held Southeastern to 10 points over the next seven minutes to secure the win.

“We definitely want to push up on them defensively,” Pugh said. “We did that in the first half. We felt like they would make adjustments, expecting us to play the same in the second half, and went with our ‘50’ defense. I thought that game took them a different look and changed the pace up a little bit.”

The Lady Jaguars will travel Friday night to Tallahassee, Fla., to take on Florida A&M.