Southern women start with a victory over Talladega College

The move from exhibition play to regular-season action didn’t change much for the Southern women’s basketball team.

Tipping off the real games Friday night against Talladega College at the F.G. Clark Activity Center, the Jaguars played the first half much as they did in their exhibition against Dillard a week before: sluggish.

They had an eight-point lead at halftime before pulling away in the second half for an 82-57 victory.

“I wasn’t really pleased with our movement offensively,” Southern coach Sandy Pugh said of the first half. “We were standing around a little bit too much. We gave up too many offensive rebounds, and we weren’t picking up the run out.”

The second half was back and forth until Southern junior forward Kenidi Robinson cleaned up an offensive rebound, giving the Lady Jaguars a 41-35 advantage and catapulting Southern on a 13-6 run.

Yet Talladega, an NAIA squad, would not go away. Guard Arielle George connected on three of her four successful 3-pointers, keeping her team within striking distance at 56-53 with just under nine minutes to play. Southern senior guard Kendra Coleman led the charge down the stretch, scoring seven of her final 16 points in the final eight minutes.

Heading into the contest, Pugh emphasized that she wanted her squad to create as much pressure as possible. The Jaguars certainly were able to do that, forcing 26 turnovers — half of those in the first half. Still, Pugh wants to see more out of her team defensively.

“We have to do better in terms of our on-ball defense,’’ she said. “When we push up in man-to-man (defense), we have to get up and deny. We’re letting people get too many dribbles in, and we’re not rotating quickly. We’re two seconds too late in our timing.”

Jazmine Jefferson paced the way for Southern, scoring 19 points to go with 14 rebounds.

“I thought she was solid,” Pugh said. “I want to see her continue to assert herself offensively. The last couple of years she’s been regulated to a defensive stopper and a rebounder. She’s capable of getting a double-double every night.”

Southern hosts Southeastern Louisiana at 5:30 p.m. Monday.