The Prairie View women’s basketball team entered Friday’s game at Southern having won back-to-back Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament titles and having posted eight straight wins against league teams dating to last season.
The Jaguars weren’t fazed.
Southern never trailed in a 60-55 victory, riding the strong shooting — and grit — of junior guard Kendra Coleman to stay unbeaten in SWAC play.
Coleman had a game-high 20 points on a 6-of-9 effort from the field and fought through a thigh injury that sidelined her late in the first half. Her seven points keyed a 14-0 run that turned an early 9-9 tie into a 25-11 lead.
“We knew they were the No. 1 team coming in,” Coleman said. “We had the mindset that we had to get after it.”
Coleman, who led SU with 15 points in its SWAC-opening win Wednesday against Texas Southern, bumped her average in SWAC play to 17.5 points. She is 15-of-16 from the free-throw line in the two games.
Prairie View battled back from the 14-point first-half deficit to tie it up at 39 with 14 minutes to play. Southern never got the lead back to double figures, but an 8-0 answer helped the Jaguars regain some breathing room.
Next up for Southern (3-10, 2-0) is a Sunday afternoon trip at rival Grambling, the third game for the Jaguars in five days.
“Early on in the season, we lost these games,” said Southern coach Sandy Pugh, who said she was impressed with how the Jaguars closed. “I can definitely see a mental shift with this team now that we’re in league play.”
Coleman started fast in a game that matched the two teams that have combined to win six of the past seven SWAC tournament titles.
But just before going to halftime with 16 points, the Donaldsonville High School graduate hobbled off the court after taking a knee to her right thigh. Coleman was quickly carried to the locker room but was back on the court as the second half began.
Coleman said there was never any doubt she would return — nor that she would play well.
“My coach told me she expected more from me in this game,” Coleman said. “So I did as she said.”
Adrian Sanders added 14 points, and Yasmin Fuller had 10 off the bench.
SWAC scoring leader Latia Williams was held to 12 points — two below her average. But she pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds, helping Prairie View build a 37-30 edge in that department.
Jeanette Jackson led the Panthers with 16 points.
Southern sealed the win when Williams, her team down five, missed a 3 in the final seconds and Lechell Rush secured her team-high 10th rebound.