Kendra Coleman found herself sitting on the Southern bench 35 seconds into the game against Mississippi Valley State on Monday.
That’s how long it took coach Sandy Pugh to realize her senior leader wasn’t properly focused as her lack of aggression helped the Delta Devilettes get an offensive rebound and draw a foul on the game’s first possession.
“I completely understood why she took me out,” Coleman said after the Jaguars’ 70-51 victory in the F.G. Clark Activity Center. “I just sat on the bench and thought about it and stayed focused.”
Coleman sat for 4½ minutes and scored seconds after re-entering the game she made a 3-pointer. After that she was off and running, going on to score a game-high 19 points. She made 7-of-16 shots, including 4-of-7 3-pointers.
“When she went back in she played much better,” Pugh said.
Southern (6-10, 4-2 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference) visits Alabama A&M on Saturday. Valley is 2-14 and 0-5.
Coleman got help on the offensive end from fellow guard Britney Washington, who entered the game unexpectedly early as Coleman’s replacement, and Briana Green, who became the primary frontcourt scorer after fellow post player Jasmine Jefferson missed all but six minutes of the first half after committing two fouls.
Washington scored 17 points and Green had 16. Jefferson finished with eight points and a team-high eight rebounds in 22 minutes.
Green said she’s getting closer to 100 percent in her return from surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered in high school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, nearly a year ago.
“She’s getting better and better,” Pugh said. “We saw her before she got injured and she was incredible. She’s getting there, slowly but surely.”
Southern led by five at halftime, but made just one of its first 12 shots in the second half. Valley, though, didn’t get any closer than three before the Jaguars started to find the range.
A jumper by Green and 3-pointer by Coleman gave the Jaguars a 38-30 lead.
A’Shanti Weathers’ 3-pointer got the Devilettes within three again before Southern extended the lead again.
Green scored on a drive, Washington made consecutive jumpers and Coleman fed Green for a layup. That gave the Jaguars a 48-37 lead midway through the half.
“Britney made some big buckets in the second half that got us going,” Pugh said.
Weathers made a jumper and Christina Reed a layup, but Cortnei Purnell scored on a put-back and Coleman and Washington each made a 3-pointer for a 56-41 lead and the Jaguars were in control.
Yasmine Nelson returned after a two-game absence to test her sprained knee and she played three minutes.
Reed led Valley with 15 points and 14 points. Both of them had a game-high nine rebounds.
The Jaguars took a 19-8 lead as five players scored. The Devilettes went nearly six minutes without a field goal and Southern maintained a 10-point lead through 17 minutes.
Kadesha Floyd made a 3-pointer and Reed made consecutive layups to cut the lead to 3 before Coleman’s jumper with four seconds left sent the Jaguars into halftime with a 31-26 lead.
Valley was in the bonus for the final 14:24 of the half, but didn’t take full advantage. They made 2-of-9 free throws, including two missed front ends of 1-and-1s, and finished 14-of-26.