Southern women’s basketball coach Sandy Pugh wasn’t pleased with her team Wednesday for what she called a series of mental lapses.
But the Jaguars were so good in a stretch of eight-plus minutes, they gave themselves plenty of margin for error in a 72-60 victory over Texas Southern, the first game of the Southwestern Athletic Conference season for both squads.
Southern used a 23-0 run to overcome an early deficit at the F.G. Clark Activity Center and get back in the win column after struggling to a 1-12 mark in nonconference action.
“This team is streaky,” Pugh said. “We have situations where they’re on fire. Then they go on these spells where they’re second-guessing themselves.”
Southern went 19-of-22 (86.4 percent) from the free-throw line and forced TSU into 17 turnovers.
Kendra Coleman, who represented Southern on the preseason All-SWAC second team, canned eight of nine free throws in scoring a team-high 15 points. Jasmine Jefferson added 12 points to go with nine rebounds, barely missing a double-double.
Southern will have a quick turnaround before returning to face Prairie View on Friday night in a matchup of the SWAC’s premier programs.
Prairie View and Southern have combined to win six of the past seven SWAC tournament titles.
Pugh said she wasn’t “relieved” that Southern broke through in its conference opener. She sensed that her players were.
“Our expectation in this league (should be) to win every game,” Pugh said. “I thought we were content to just get by.”
Southern came out flat, falling behind by seven points four times in the opening seven minutes. Then came that haymaker of a 23-0 run.
From the 13:03 mark to the 4:55 mark, Southern turned a 15-8 deficit into a 31-15 lead, with Coleman going 4-for-4 from the free-throw line and draining a 3-pointer to lead the surge. Texas Southern (3-9) cut the lead to 33-23, but the Jaguars had it back up to 16 at halftime.
One of those dreaded mental lapses followed.
After going ahead 43-23 on a Jefferson jumper early in the second half, Southern allowed Texas Southern to rip off 11 straight points, closing the gap all the way to 43-34 when Adijatu Disu drove the lane with 13:43 to go.
Adrian Sanders got Southern back on track with an off-balance 3-pointer.
“We had them down 20, but we didn’t choke them,” Pugh said. “We stopped attacking.”
Southern matched its game-high 20-point lead twice more in the second half, but Texas Southern answered just enough on both occasions to keep Pugh antsy.
Brianna Sidney led the Tigers with a game-high 18 points, followed by Teera Williams with 15.