GREENWOOD, Miss. — The Southern women’s and men’s teams are both among the hottest basketball teams in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
The women won their fourth consecutive game when they started a two-game road trip with a 78-61 victory at Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday. A short time later, the men followed them on to the court at the H.O. Clemmons Arena and won their third consecutive game 67-57.
Both Jaguars teams will seek a repeat performance when they play Mississippi Valley State on Monday at the Leflore County Civic Center.
The Southern women (4-1 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference and 7-7 overall) and their Delta Devils counterparts (1-3, 3-11) meet at 5:30 p.m.
The women took control in the second quarter against UAPB and never relinquished the lead, though it wasn’t a blemish-free performance.
“We’ve got to cut down on the turnovers and the free throws (allowed),” guard Britney Washington said. “We need to keep our intensity up because Valley beat (UAPB).”
The Jaguars committed 20 turnovers against the Golden Lions but forced 22. UAPB shot 22 free throws and made 18 and Southern shot 20 and made 12. The Delta Devils beat the Golden Lions 62-60 in their SWAC opener, but they’ve lost their past three games by an average of 29 points.
Coach Sandy Pugh is looking for improved play in the post, which is being shared by Kenidi Robinson, Jadea Brundidge and Miaya Crowder.
“We got whooped at the post position,” Pugh said. “We were way too soft. The post is a big part of our offense.”
Overall, the Southern offense has been effective the last three games, averaging 81 points. Valley is last in scoring defense in SWAC play, allowing an average of 80 points.
The Jaguars won both meetings last season and had an average margin of 14 points.
The Southern men (3-2, 11-7) are expected to again be without two starters who have sprained ankles when they face Valley (2-2, 2-16) at approximately 7:30 p.m. Center D’Andre Allen has missed the past five games, and guard Trelun Banks missed the game at UAPB.
The Jaguars have been playing with one big man — 6-foot-9 power forward Jared Sam — in the starting lineup. Despite the relative lack of height, Southern outrebounded UAPB by 15 and in the game before that it outrebounded Jackson State by five.
“It’s got to be a group effort (in rebounding),” said Sam, who had a game-high eight rebounds Saturday. “It can’t just be the fours and fives, the twos and threes have to help out.”
Rashad Andrews, who has taken Allen’s spot in the starting lineup, and Chris Thomas each had seven rebounds as seven of the eight Jaguars who played against the Golden Lions had at least three rebounds.
“We tell them that it’s game rebounding that’s important,” Southern coach Roman Banks said. “The perimeter guys need to get in there and get their three or four rebounds, and that really helps us out.”
Valley is tops in SWAC play in scoring (76.5) and three-point percentage (39.1).
Southern won both meetings last season and had an average margin of 18 points.
Follow Les East on Twitter, @EastAdvocate.