The Southern women’s basketball team won its first eight Southwestern Athletic Conference games on its way to the league’s regular-season title last season.
The Jaguars were picked in the preseason to repeat, but doing so will require overcoming a much earlier loss than last season.
Southern fell to 1-1 in league play when it lost at home to Texas Southern 62-48 Monday night. It was just the second game in an 18-game league schedule, so the Jaguars aren’t overly concerned about one loss.
But Southern (3-9 overall) plays its first conference road game at Grambling (3-10 and 0-2) at 3 p.m. Saturday looking for a better performance than its last. The game will be broadcast on WYNK-FM 97.7.
“We’re one game out of first place; we’ve been there before,” Jaguars coach Sandy Pugh said. “You’ve just to get back up, get back on the horse and start doing the little fundamentally sounds things you’ve been taught and play with that intensity and passion.”
Pugh said she didn’t think her team played with the intensity Monday that was befitting a match-up with a fellow 1-0 team.
“I challenged the kids to come back,” Pugh said. “We’ll see (Texas Southern) in March. The whole question is, will we be this team in March or will we continue to get better and get prepared for what’s coming down the road? So that’s the challenge before them.”
The loss Monday continued a season-long trend in which Southern has been outrebounded. The Lady Tigers outrebounded the Jaguars 40-25 and Southern ranks second to last in the SWAC in rebounding margin at minus-10.1.
When the Jaguars were playing mostly taller teams in the preseason, the rebounding deficit was more understandable. But they generally match up better with their conference opponents.
TSU started a 6-foot-1 and 6-2 front court. Southern has been starting 6-foot-1 Jasmine Jefferson and either Kenidi Robinson or Brianna Green, both of whom are 5-11, in the front court.
Robinson has missed the last two games after a shot to the mouth in practice required dental work. She could return either against Grambling or for the game at Jackson State on Monday.
The Jaguars figure to have an easier time rebounding the ball against Grambling, which is last in the SWAC with a rebounding margin of minus-18.8.
The Tigers list 10 guards, including all five of their starters, among the 11 players on their roster and they do not list heights for any of their players.
Southern won at Grambling 74-72 last season after beating the Tigers 100-92 in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
Follow Les East on Twitter @EastAdvocate.