The Southern women's basketball season opened Southwestern Athletic Conference play at the F.G. Clark Activity Center, but it was visiting Prairie View that looked at home on Saturday.
At least for a half.
Trailing after two quarters, Southern found its game at both ends of the court and rallied to post a 51-44 win.
Southern (1-6, 1-0) opened the game as cold as it has been all season. The Jaguars made only 8 of 33 shots from the field, good for only 24.2%. Offensively, it was the Jaguars worst first half of the season, but the light came on in the second half.
Shots started falling and Southern, which trailed 31-22 at halftime, outscored Prairie View (1-3, 0-1) 29-13 in the final two quarters.
“I told our girls that at halftime we couldn’t play any worse,” Southern coach Carlos Funchess said. “I mean, we were just throwing the ball up at the basket. We settled down, but it took a team effort.”
The team effort was led by Genovea Johnson and Kayla Watson, who each scored nine points. Taneara Moore grabbed a game-high nine rebounds as Southern pulled down 21 offensive rebounds and outrebounded Prairie View 35-28.
“We talked about it at halftime,” Johnson said of the team’s first-half woes. “Basically, we weren’t putting the ball in the hole. We were getting looks so, as a team, we made the decision we were going to put the ball in the hole.”
Southern also stepped up its defense. Prairie View got 11 points each from Diana Rosenthal and former University High forward Kennedi Heard, but the duo did most of its damage in the first half.
Rosenthal appeared to have Prairie View on its way in the third quarter with two baskets in the first 30 seconds to give the Panthers a 35-22 lead. Instead, only scored one more basket, and Southern held the Panthers to nine points over the next 19 minutes of game action.
Funchess said the Jaguars got a defensive boost after had made two substitutions early in the second half.
“(Prairie View) came out and hit two quick buckets, so I knew I had to get Nakia Kincey and Kayla Watson in,” Funchess said. “They’re like Energizer bunny rabbits. They’re going to guard you, and they’re going to make everything tough. We came out a little flat, but that got us going.”
Prairie View made just one of its next nine shots from the field. Meanwhile, six Jaguars combined to make seven baskets as Southern put together an 18-2 run. The Jaguars led 40-39 after three quarters and 42-41 with eight minutes left to play.
Fueled by Watson’s 3-pointer and Jordan Aikens’ three-point play, Southern put the game away with an 8-0 run. Prairie View got as close as 50-44, and had the ball with 1:20 left to play. Moore’s steal led to free throws for Johnson, and the Panthers never got off another shot.