The Southern and South Alabama women’s basketball teams have at least two things in common.
They both go by the nickname of Jaguars and they both opened their seasons with a victory against Spring Hill College.
Now both sets of Jaguars will meet at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
Southern, whose season-opening 65-46 win against Spring Hill came Nov. 13, is 1-1 after an 88-47 loss at No. 13 Texas A&M on Sunday. South Alabama hasn’t played since its 64-49 victory against Spring Hill on Tuesday.
“I think the biggest challenge for these kids is learning how to play Division I basketball,” said Southern coach Sandy Pugh, whose team has nine new players, including three starters. “We’ve got so many new ones that just don’t understand the intensity level in every aspect of competition that you’ve got to play at. That’s our challenge — to get them there.”
After forcing 30 turnovers that led to 24 points in the opener, Southern committed 25 turnovers that turned into 24 points for Texas A&M. The Aggies had five double-figure scorers and shot 47.5 percent compared to Southern’s 25.8 percent shooting.
Southern shot just 12 percent (4-of-34) in the second half and scored just 13 points after trailing 49-34 at halftime.
Freshman guard Skylar O’Bear leads Southern with an average of 11.0 points per game and she is averaging three assists and three steals.
Junior guard Cortnei Purnell had a team-high 16 points against the Aggies and she’s averaging 10.0 points and 5.0 rebounds. Freshman post player Miaya Crowder is averaging 10.5 points and 5.0 rebounds. Sophomore forward Briana Green is averaging a team-high 6.5 rebounds.
Southern has struggled with its 3-point shooting, making 3-of-23 and all three baskets have come from O’Bear, who has attempted 12 3-pointers.
In South Alabama’s win, it turned up the defensive pressure in the second half as it extended a two-point halftime edge. USA held the Badgers to 18.2 percent shooting in the second half (4-of-22) and didn’t allow a field goal in 11 attempts in the fourth quarter.
This will be Southern’s last home game until Dec. 14 when it plays Tougaloo.
“We just haven’t put this puzzle together yet,” Pugh said. “You know how you’re almost there, you just can’t find the last couple of pieces you’re looking for to put the whole thing together.
“But I’m very optimistic that we’ll get there.”
Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.