swacwomen.030817 HS 299.JPG

Southern head coach Sandy Pugh, center, speaks to her players during a timeout against Alcorn State in a SWAC tournament quarterfinal, Tuesday, March 7, 2017, at Southern University's F. G. Clark Activity Center in Baton Rouge, La.

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK

The box score wasn’t pretty.

Sometimes it doesn’t need to be.

In the Southern womens' first home Southwestern Athletic Conference victory this season, the Jaguars pounced on Grambling from Saturday’s tip with defense, outworking Grambling in a 63-44 victory Saturday at the F.G. Clark Activity Center.

“Tonight was won defensively, rebounding — which has been a big thing for us — steals, boxing out,” Southern forward Briana Green said.

“Staying aggressive defensively,” guard Skylar O’Bear added. “We knew our offense would come.”

With Green’s 15 points and O’Bear’s 13, Southern’s offense did come. Southern (3-9, 2-1 SWAC) fluctuated between large leads with smaller ones as its defense forced 28 Grambling turnovers. The Jaguars’ defiant defense sortied their offense. Southern turned Grambling’s giveaways into 25 points and pounded the Lady Tigers’ defensive interior for 24 points in the paint.

Southern had lost two of its past three games by seven points or fewer. With a lead as large as 21, Southern wasn't losing another nail-biter.

“We closed,” Southern coach Sandy Pugh said. “We closed the game out. I was surprised when they started walking and they seemed fatigued. … We did a good job of that.”

Pugh credited a large chunk of the defense’s success to superior scouting. Southern knew of Grambling’s reliance on the 3-point shot. Because of it, Grambling did not make a single 3-pointer in 16 attempts.

“They love to put the 3-ball up,” Pugh said.

“Any time you can hold Grambling 0-of-16 from the 3,” Pugh said, “you’re going to beat them.”

Any win is sweet. But any time it’s against Grambling, it’s even sweeter for Southern.

“It’s always good, first off, to beat a rival team like Grambling,” Green said. “They always come in here ready to compete against us. It’s a big rivalry game, you see all the fans. So we had to give the fans what they paid to come see. ... At home, it’s always amazing.”

“Like I told them in the locker room, this time of year, you’re playing for an opportunity to cut nets,” Pugh said. “That’s what it’s all about.”