HOUSTON — With more than half of her players making their Southwestern Athletic Conference debuts, Southern women’s basketball coach Sandy Pugh knew she was going to find out a few things about her team Saturday.
After a 59-45 loss to Texas Southern at the HP&E Arena, the one thing the Jaguars are still trying to discover is their team identity.
“We need to find who we are and show who we are every time we hit the floor,” Pugh said. “I don’t think we did that tonight.”
The Jaguars (3-7, 0-1 SWAC) fell behind double digits in the game’s first five minutes and never caught up against the Tigers.
Toni Cheadle scored 15 points, while Kianna Vines added 11 to lead Texas Southern (5-6, 1-0) .
Southern was led by Britney Washington with 14 points. Cortnei Purnell was the only other Jaguar in double figures with 10.
Only five of SU’s 13 women had played in a SWAC game before. Southern also used four freshman guards in several combinations hoping to find a spark.
One of the biggest failures was on the defensive side of the ball. SU allowed TSU to make 50 percent of its shots, compared to just 33 percent for the Jaguars.
“This one here was our fault,” Pugh said. “There is no way they should be 21 points up. We stood and watched jump shots. We didn’t do a very good job on interior defense.
“We know it was all our own doing. We’ve got to figure it out.”
Washington, Southern’s leading returning scorer, struggled with her shot in the first half when the Jaguars fell behind before finding her touch late.
“We just didn’t come out and execute like we were supposed to,” Washington said.
“We gave them a 21-point lead. We started to hit some shots a little bit, but the deficit was too big.”
Sophomore Briana Green, also expected to be counted on offensively, made just 1 of 6 shots.
The Jaguars got off to a rough start from the opening tip.
Freshman point guard Skylar O’Bear picked up two fouls in the game’s first 47 seconds.
Minutes later, TSU went on a 12-1 run to open up a double-digit lead midway through the first quarter.
The Lady Tigers didn’t let up in the second quarter, with Joyce Kennerson leading TSU on a 14-0 run and 36-12 lead.
After falling behind 50-26 in the third quarter, SU went on a 7-0 run, highlighted by six straight points from Washington.
Southern drew within 13 points in the fourth quarter following back-to-back 3-pointers from Washington, but that would be as close as the Jaguars would get.
“Any time you play in this conference, you are going to have nights where it is up and down,” Pugh said. “The key is you have to get the split. Now we have to go to Prairie View (on Monday) and get the split and then go home and handle business.
Part of that business will be finding the team’s identity.
“When you wear the blue and gold and everyone has high expectations of you,” Pugh said. “And we have high expectations of ourselves. We need to go back to practice and find us.”