HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Kendra Coleman hadn’t been herself lately, and Southern women’s basketball coach Sandy Pugh let her know it.
Coleman, the Jaguars’ senior shooting guard, hadn’t been the kind of leader Pugh wanted her to be through the first half of the season. That changed over the past few days, and it carried over into Saturday’s game at Alabama A&M.
Coleman scored 14 points, one of four Jaguars in double figures, as Southern torched A&M 77-55 at Elmore Gym in a Southwestern Athletic Conference game before an announced crowd of 892.
“Our seniors, Kendra and Jasmine (Jefferson), made the difference,” Pugh said. “The last couple of days at practice, they have really asserted themselves in terms of expectations and what we’re looking for and what we want to see at practice.
“Kendra is a tough kid. She played some defense tonight and that propelled her offense. I was really happy to see her play well.”
Briana Green led the Jaguars with 16 points. Jefferson finished with 13, while Britney Washington scored 14 points off bench.
“Coach has been on me a lot about my intensity and being a leader,” Coleman said. “I wasn’t stepping up to the challenge. I let someone else do it.
“Tonight, I stepped up. Coach told us to keep our intensity up. We were real focused. I liked the way we played today. We played with a lot of intensity. We moved the ball and good things happened.”
The win lifted Southern to 7-10 overall and 5-2 in league play. The loss dropped A&M to 4-13 and 3-3.
Southern used a 29-6 run during a 12-minute stretch spanning the midway point of the first half and the early portion of the second half to power past A&M en route to the victory.
The Jaguars led by nine points on a couple of occasions in the early going, but the Bulldogs outscored Southern 12-4 over a four-minute period to pull within 23-22 on a jumper by Taylor Sippial with just under 10 minutes left in the first half.
From that point on, Southern outscored A&M 29-6 over the next 12 minutes to turn a close game into a blowout.
The Jaguars, who shot 55 percent from the field (18-of-33) in the first 20 minutes, closed the half with a 17-6 run to take their largest lead of the game at 40-28 at intermission.
Then, they scored the first 12 points of the second half to take a commanding 52-28 advantage and the outcome was never in doubt.
“I was happy to see us come out from the opening tip,” Pugh said after watching her team shoot 53 percent from the field, while holding A&M to 37.5 percent. “This is the first game we have played consistently for 40 minutes. This is by far one of our better outings. To come in here and beat them like we did … I’m proud of them.”
Sippial and Jaylan Snowden led A&M with 13 points apiece.
One of the big keys for Southern was its ability to slow down A&M’s top two scorers: Janie Myles and Brittney Strickland.
Myles, who entered the game averaging 17.7 points per game, managed just two points in the first half as she missed all eight of her shots and committed five turnovers. She finished with nine points and nine rebounds, but was just 2-of-11 from the field with six turnovers.
Strickland, who was averaging 13.5 points, finished with four points on 1-of-7 shooting, including 0-of-3 from 3-point range.
Southern visits Alabama State on Monday night.