The Southern women’s basketball team got just what it needed Wednesday night in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
After losing six straight games on the road, mostly against teams from power conferences, the Jaguars came home and never trailed during an 80-69 victory against Florida A&M.
Five players scored in double figures and the defense helped get the fast-break going by making a dozen steals.
“I thought we did a good job of sharing the basketball and hitting the open guy,” Southern coach Sandy Pugh said. “The offense looked fluid. We were hitting shots. We seemed really comfortable and I was really pleased to see that.
“Defensively we had some communication breakdowns that happened, but we did a good job of getting out in transition. That was good to see.”
Southern, 2-6 after its first win against an NCAA opponent, plays the University of Florida on Sunday, the first day of the two-day Florida Tournament in Gainesville, Fla. The Lady Rattlers are 3-5.
Jasmine Jefferson led the Jaguars with 17 points, Kendra Coleman had 16, Ashley Williams 12, and Briana Green and Britney Washington 11 each.
Coleman was an efficient 4-of-7 from the floor, 2-of-3 on 3-pointers and 6-of-8 on free throws. She also had three rebounds, two assists and a steal as she split her 20 minutes between point guard and her customary shooting guard position.
“I thought Kendra did a good job of controlling,” Pugh said. “When she had to play point she did a good job and when she was at the two I thought she did a good job of buffering up the point guard. She was solid in terms of decisions and being verbal.”
Dawn King and Tankea Rubin led FAMU with 12 points each and Olivia Atilla had 11. Former Scotlandville High School guard Kenya Dixon had seven points, 3.5 below her team-leading average after being sidelined for the last eight minutes after injuring her right knee.
The Jaguars scored 30 points off 23 FAMU turnovers and they had a 16-2 edge on points off turnovers.
“That’s a big part of our identity,” Jefferson said. “If we can get steals and easy points, anybody will take that.”
Southern led by 14 at halftime and Jefferson scored seven points during a 14-5 run that gave the Jaguars a 51-28 lead.
FAMU fought back as Rubin’s five points helped trim the lead to 55-39 before Southern went on another run.
Five Jaguars scored two points each to push the lead to 65-42 with five minutes remaining.
Southern got sloppy with its ball-handling and fouling as the Lady Rattlers scored 27 points the rest of the way, but the closest they could get was eight points with 16 seconds remaining.
“We kind of took our foot off the pedal a little bit,” Pugh said. “We got a little lackadaisical and they got their intensity level up and good things happened for them and they got going and we got a little tentative.”
Green had eight points, including two layups off of steals, and Coleman made two 3-pointers as Southern took a 14-4 lead.
The Jaguars took their biggest lead of the half at 21-8 on Williams’ 3-pointer. Cortnei Purnell scored consecutive baskets to help push the lead to 37-23 at halftime.
Follow Les East on Twitter @EastAdvocate.