Basketball returned to the F.G. Clark Activity Center on Sunday as the Southern women’s ream topped Dillard University 75-43 in their lone exhibition game before starting the regular season later this week.
“We have a long way to go still,” Southern coach Sandy Pugh said. “This team is very athletic, but I expect more. They are still learning and are only going to get better.”
Southern’s Yasmin Fuller was 5-for-7 from the floor, including three 3-pointers, for a game-high 14 points. She also pulled down seven rebounds.
“Yasmin is a tremendous shooter,” Pugh said of the junior-college transfer from Seattle. “We are going to need her to play at her highest level throughout the season.”
Senior forward Lechell Rush added 11 points and led Southern with nine rebounds.
The Jaguars opened the game with a 12-4 run, thanks in large part to two quick 3-pointers by Fuller, forcing Dillard to use an early timeout. Unfazed, Fuller came right out of the break and drained another 3 from the corner.
The Lady Bleu Devils pulled within six points on a basket by Brittany Smith, but Southern’s Kendra Coleman came back with five unanswered points, extending Jaguars’ lead to 21-10 midway through the first half.
Up by 20 with only a few seconds left before halftime, Southern senior guard Essence Hopkins stole the ball from Dilliard’s Je’nae Strong and fired up a long, desperate shot that went in.
It was Southern’s fourth 3 of the half. Hopkins’ circus shot gave the Jaguars a comfortable 40-17 lead going into the locker room.
“The crowd enjoyed (the shot) more than me probably,” Pugh said with a laugh. “It was a big shot for Essence. I don’t think she has ever hit a shot like that before.”
The second half started off similar to the first, with Southern going on a quick 10-1 run. Rush converted two offensive rebounds into four points, pushing the Jaguars out to a 50-17 lead.
The Lady Bleu Devils were 0-for-8 from the field for the first six minutes of the second half until Jazzmin Smith converted a layup after jostling for a rebound.
Smith led Dillard with 14 points and had seven of the team’s 35 rebounds.
“I saw determination out of my team tonight,” said Dillard coach Kiki Baker-Barnes. “We had a tough time putting the ball in the basket, but we did a good job in meeting our defensive goals.”
Down by 40 with six minutes left in the game, Dillard continued went on an 11-2 run to put the score at 70-39. Southern was still comfortably ahead when Victoria Davis nailed a 3-pointer from the corner, ending the Lady Bleu Devils’ run.
The Jaguars host Louisiana-Lafayette at 6 p.m. Friday to open the regular season.