The Southern women’s basketball team has one more road trip to make before it begins Southwestern Athletic Conference play next month.
The Jaguars (2-6) play Florida in the Gator Holiday Classic at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Gainesville, Fla., then face Eastern Washington or Georgia Southern on Monday.
It’s the last opportunity for the team to hone its game under game conditions before it hosts Prairie View in its conference opener Jan. 3.
Coach Sandy Pugh said she was mostly pleased with her team’s performance in an 80-69 home victory against Florida A&M on Wednesday. But there are some areas she’d liked to see improvement in over the next two days.
“We’ve got to be able to hit the open looks,” Pugh said. “We’ve got to go to the offensive boards and we’ve got to box the boards (in general). There are a lot of detail areas that we’ve got to clean up for us to get ready for our next couple of ball games.
“But any time you have five or six players in double figures, that’s impressive. That’s sharing the basketball and the type of stat I like to see.”
Pugh liked what she saw from Jasmine Jefferson, who had 17 points to lead five Jaguars in double-figure scoring against FAMU. Jefferson, a preseason All-Southwestern Athletic Conference post player, said she hasn’t been herself this season.
“To be honest I really don’t have an answer,” Jefferson said. “Maybe I didn’t come out aggressive enough and I was looking for everyone else. Of course that’s thinking team wise — looking to open up other players — but I have to look for my shot as well. I have to lead this team.”
Jefferson (6-foot-1) has had to go against a lot of bigger players while the Jaguars have been playing teams such as Ole Miss, Illinois, Minnesota, Texas and Arizona. But Florida’s tallest starters are 6-feet tall.
“One of the challenges I gave her,” Pugh said of Jefferson, “was I told her she’s been playing like a sheep and I need her to play like a lion on the backboards and in transition and getting out and running, doing the things she’s familiar with.
“She’s been fighting 6-4, 6-5 bigs so for her to get our there and rebound and get out in transition and feel comfortable hitting her jump shot, I was happy to see that.”
Southern has been out-rebounded in each of its last seven games and has committed at least 20 turnovers in four of the last five, including 24 against FAMU.
“We have to continue to do things to get the kids to understand where they need to be, the intensity level they need to play at and what it takes to win,” Pugh said. “The turnovers have got to cease. We’ve got to do a better job at that. We’ve got to do a better job on our box out.
“We’re still interchangeable parts. We’re still not playing consistently. You’ve got three or four kids that are pretty much going to do the same thing for you consistently. I’ve got to get more consistency out of eight or nine.”
Follow Les East on Twitter @EastAdvocate.