The Southern women took the lead with an efficient offense in the first half and pulled away thanks to its second-half defense against Jackson State on Monday night.

It added up to the third consecutive victory for the Jaguars (6-7, 3-1) as they had a season-high for points and handed the Tigers (9-6) an 84-57 loss after they had opened Southwestern Athletic Conference play with three straight wins. Southern visits Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday.

“I thought we did a good job of sharing the basketball,” coach Sandy Pugh said. “We didn’t rush and we let the game come to us. We got the ball into the high post and we got it down on the block.”

Southern had 22 assists on 33 baskets and shot 50.8 percent. Britney Washington led the way with 16 points, Briana Green scored 14, Cortnei Purnell had 12 and Skylar O’Bear 11.

“Right now everybody’s knocking down shots,” Purnell said. “I went into this game feeling more confident and a lot more relaxed.”

Purnell made 5-of-7 field goals and both of her free throws and attributed her accuracy to extra work in the gym, especially with an automatic shooting machine that feeds basketballs in rapid-fire succession.

“I took 100 extra shot after practice (Sunday),” she said. “We’re off (Tuesday), but I think I’m going to come in and shoot 500.”

Chelsea Causey came off the bench to lead the Tigers with 14 points, Tiara Pollnitz scored 11 and Kierra Adams had 10. Derica Wiggins had two points, nine below her team-leading average, on 1-of-11 shooting.

After 58 percent shooting helped the Jaguars to a 47-36 halftime lead, their defense set the tone in the third quarter.

The Tigers made just one field goal as Southern outscored JSU 17-8 to build a 20-point cushion after three quarters.

“In the locker room at halftime coach said that our defense was OK, but defense wins games and championships,” Green said. “In the third quarter we kept talking to each other about getting steals and keeping them off the glass.”

The Tigers managed four field goals in the fourth quarter, but the Jaguars led by as many as 28 down the stretch.

The score was tied before Washington made a jumper and two free throws to give Southern a 24-20 lead after one quarter.

Pollnitz and Nyahok Bile had layups to start the second quarter and there were three more ties before the Jaguars finished the half with a run.

Washington’s 3-pointer broke a 34-all tie and started an 8-0 run. After Bridget Robinson made a layup for the Tigers, O’Bear made two free throws and Washington made a 3-pointer to give Southern a 47-36 halftime lead.

Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.