The Southern women wanted to reverse the outcome of their first meeting with Alabama State in the rematch Saturday in Montgomery, Alabama.
The Jaguars not only did that, they very nearly flipped the entire script in a 57-55 victory in a key Southwestern Athletic Conference game at the Dunn-Oliver Acadome.
As the Lady Hornets did in their 60-59 overtime victory in the F.G. Clark Activity center on Jan. 23, Southern seized control early, lost the lead in the second half and made the decisive plays in the final seconds.
The only difference was the Jaguars didn’t need extra time win after Briana Green made a steal and put them ahead with a three-point play with 1:46 left and added another steal and free throw with 4.4 seconds left.
Alabama State, which won the first meeting on two free throws with seven seconds left in overtime, failed to score in the final three minutes as its 10-game winning streak came to an end.
“This was a big one,” Southern coach Sandy Pugh said. “That team hadn’t lost since early January, and they came to Baton Rouge and stole one. We just kept grinding, and the difference in the fourth quarter was we played better defense and we moved the ball better.”
The Jaguars (11-3 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference and 14-9 overall) moved a half-game ahead of the Lady Hornets (10-3 and 12-10) into second place, a half-game behind Texas Southern, which is 11-2 after an 85-30 victory at Mississippi Valley State on Saturday. The Jaguars visit Alabama A&M on Monday.
Southern led by two points at halftime, but ASU scored the first 10 points of the third quarter and maintained the lead until the Jaguars pulled even at 47 early in the fourth quarter.
Britney Wright, who led the Lady Hornets with 20 points and 11 rebounds, scored six points as ASU took a 55-51 lead with a little more than three minutes remaining.
Cortnei Purnell, who finished with 10 points for Southern, made a jumper and Green, followed with a steal, layup and three-point play for a one-point lead with 1:46 left.
“That was one of the biggest plays of the game,” Purnell said.
ASU’s next possession ended with an offensive foul, then on its next one, after Daniele Ewert missed a 3-pointer, Wright got the rebound and called timeout with 21 seconds left and the shot clock off.
Kayla Tucker and Ashanti Spencer both missed 3-pointers and Purnell rebounded. After a timeout Green was fouled and missed two free throws with seven seconds left.
“I just told Briana to keep her head up,” Pugh said. “We still had the lead.”
After a timeout the Lady Hornets tried to pass the Wright in the post and Green read the play and beat her to the ball for the steal.
“I wanted to get that steal to make up for those misses,” Green said. “I was ecstatic when I got another chance.”
She missed the first, but made the second giving her 14 points to go with her 11 rebounds and the Jaguars a slightly more comfortable two-point lead.
Danielle Clark missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer just as Purnell’s missed 3-pointer at the end of overtime concluded the first meeting.
Miaya Crowder had 11 points and Britney Washington 10 for Southern.
“From the beginning of the game Southern did a much better job of getting to the 50-50 balls,” ASU coach Freda Freeman-Jackson said. “We started the game so sluggish.”