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Southern's Brittany Rose (11) drives the ball against Tougaloo, Wednesday, November 13, 2019, at Southern University's F.G. Clark Activity Center in Baton Rouge, La.

Putting your best foot forward is important for any athlete. For Southern senior forward Brittany Rose, having a healthy foot was the first step in that process.

Rose came to Southern from Copiah-Lincoln Junior College before last season, where she helped the Lady Wolves to a 24-5 record and a second-place finish at the 2028 NJCAA Region XXIII tournament. But, Rose missed the past nine games of the season with a fractured foot, and her recovery time extended into the summer.

That recovery affected her preparation last year, but it led to an increased desire for a healthy Rose to work hard before this season began.

“She worked out all summer,” Southern coach Carlos Funchess said. “Coming from junior college, she had a fracture in her foot. She had been out for a while and she really couldn’t do much last summer. This summer, she was working out the whole time.”

The hard work has led to a leaner, streamlined version of Rose that is ready for a bigger role. It has already translated into increased scoring. After averaging 7.5 points as a junior, third best on the team, Rose is averaging 11.8 points.

“She can shoot the basketball,” Funchess said. “She just knows how to play. She has that something extra that you just can’t teach.”

Rose has led Southern (2-4) in scoring three times, including 21 points in a 100-38 win over Tougaloo on Nov. 13, when she tied her career-high at Southern.

Rose led Southern in scoring nine times last season as the Jaguars went 20-12 while winning the SWAC regular season and tournament titles. After being one of the first players off the bench last season, Rose has now assumed a role as one of the team's leaders.

“Before this season started, coach Funchess pulled me aside and told me I needed to step it up a little bit,” Rose said. “That’s what I’ve been trying to do — lead by example and cheer my team on in the best way I can.”

The off-season work by Rose also set an example, and Funchess is confident the fruits of her labor will show up in conference play.

“Last year, early especially, she had to learn where her shots were coming from,” Funchess said. “She was learning a new system, and as the season went on she played better and better. This year she’s really going to score for us.”

SWAC play won’t begin until the first week of January. In the meantime, Southern is in the middle of a string of seven consecutive road games.

The road swing started at Wichita State, and Southern held a four-point lead in the fourth quarter before falling 69-63. Southern followed that with losses at Nebraska (73-39) and Texas (93-39). The Jaguars head up to Rutgers for a 6 p.m. tipoff on Thursday.

“We just try to go out and execute the plays, and play the best that we can for our coaches,” Rose said. “Really, we just try to do what they tell us to do on the court and maintain.”