Southern women’s basketball coach Sandy Pugh has been looking for a post player to make a bigger impact.
In the Jaguars’ most recent game, she got a double dose of what she was looking for.
Jasmine Jefferson and Brianna Green had their best games of the season, which had a lot to with Southern playing its most complete game in a 77-61 victory Monday at Jackson State.
The next goal is to sustain that play inside and team-wide when the Jaguars (4-10, 2-2 Southwestern Athletic Conference) host Arkansas-Pine Bluff (4-10, 2-1) at 3 p.m. Saturday in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
Jefferson’s season highs of 19 points and 12 rebounds and Green’s season-high 17 points (on 8-of-9 shooting) and seven rebounds helped Kendra Coleman’s transition from shooting guard to point guard.
“I thought those two kids took a lot of pressure off Kendra playing the point,” Pugh said. “Playing the point, her point productivity might go down, but the others have to pick up. That’s big for us.”
Coleman scored 11 points, attempting her fewest 3-pointers (two) and second-fewest field goals (seven) this season.
The Jaguars’ scoring has been more perimeter-oriented than Pugh would prefer. Britney Washington has been the leading scorer (13.4) off the bench, and Coleman has averaged 12.8.
But Jefferson, a preseason All-Southwestern Athletic Conference selection, has averaged 8.5, nearly a third less than she did a year ago. Pugh challenged her after a lethargic effort in a 57-56 loss to an undersized Grambling team just two days before the breakout performance.
“I let my teammates down, I let myself down and I let my coaches down,” Jefferson said. “We all know that if I’m not able to score, or Kendra, Brit or Brianna isn’t scoring we’re probably not going to win the game.”
Southern, which lost just two conference games last season, was suddenly 1-2 after the loss at Grambling.
“I challenged (Jefferson),” Pugh said. “I told her, ‘You’re a 15 (points) and 10 (rebounds) kid, every night, night in and night out.’ In order for us to win, she’s got to do that.”
Jefferson’s slow start to her senior season was a head-scratcher, but Green is a true freshman still figuring out her role on a mostly veteran team.
“That’s my partner,” Jefferson said of Green. “When I’m down, she picks me up. And when she’s down, I pick her up. As you can see, when we’re both on fire, we’re not losing. You always want to have two guards that work well together, and you also like to have two partners down in the post.”
Jefferson’s and Green’s performance came at an especially good time because the frontcourt has been short-handed as Kenidi Robinson has missed four games due to dental work and Yasmine Nelson was sidelined by a knee injury against Grambling.
“We always feed off of each other’s energy and we always look for each other on the inside,” Green said. “We always play together. We don’t ever just play for ourselves. We look for each other.”
Follow Les East on Twitter @EastAdvocate.