The Southern women’s starting lineup is a work in progress.
After an 89-38 blowout loss at Nebraska on Nov. 23, coach Sandy Pugh inserted post player Kenidi Robinson and guard Rishonti Cowart into the starting lineup in place of Maiya Cowder and Skylar O’Bear at Kansas State two nights later.
The changes might not have had as big an impact as playing a less-formidable opponent did, but the Jaguars were much more competitive. They led the Wildcats at halftime and trailed by just three points after three quarters before losing 59-47.
Southern (2-3) hopes to build off that improvement when it faces a third consecutive Big 12 opponent in Iowa State (3-3) at 2 p.m. Sunday in Ames, Iowa.
Robinson got into foul trouble against KSU and didn’t score and had just two rebounds in 12 minutes. Coward had seven points and two rebounds in 21 minutes.
In the post, the Jaguars have gotten improved play from senior Jadea Brundidge off the bench. She is averaging 5.6 points and five rebounds in 12.2 minutes, and she has 10 blocked shots.
Last season, she averaged 4.1 points and 3.2 rebounds in 8.6 minutes and led the team with 21 blocks.
Brundidge’s size (6-foot-3) could come in handy against the Cyclones, whose starting post player, sophomore Bryanna Fernstrom, is 6-5.
Fernstrom had her second double-double of the season when she finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds in an 84-75 victory at Northern Iowa on Wednesday.
“When she decides she wants to get down and get after it she’s as good a post player as we’ve ever had,” Pugh said of Brundidge. “This year, she told me she didn’t want to start, so she didn’t challenge for the position. Coming off the bench, she’s a great addition because she is long. She’s able to get her hands up and make people take tough shots.”
Brundidge says she’s more comfortable coming off the bench.
“If (Pugh) needs me to start I will,” Brundidge said, “but I prefer to come off the bench. It’s what I’m used to do. I’d rather stick to what I’m used to.”
Iowa State is returning home, where it has won 86 consecutive regular-season, nonconference games, after five consecutive road games. The Cyclones have had 12 consecutive winning seasons and played in the last nine NCAA tournaments. This team was picked fourth in the Big 12.
Southern is second-to-last in the Southwestern Athletic Conference in free throw shooting (54 percent) and averages just 13.6 attempts per game. Iowa State ranks second nationally in fewest personal fouls per game (10.8).