JACKSON, Miss. — The Southern women saw their 11-point lead against Jackson State shrink to six points at halftime Monday.
Even worse, forward Briana Green had sat out the final four minutes of the second quarter after injuring a knee, and it was uncertain whether she would play in the second half.
As Green’s teammates warmed up for the third quarter, she grimaced as she trotted along the sideline and tested the knee, which passed.
“When the trainer told me Briana was going to give it a try,” coach Sandy Pugh said, “I thought, ‘We got this.’ ”
Green scored 13 of her team-high 15 points after returning and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds as the Jaguars defeated the Lady Tigers 66-57.
Southern (11-9, 8-3 Southwestern Athletic Conference) hosts Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday.
“Briana is a soldier,” said guard Ashley Williams, the only other Jaguar to reach double figures (11).
Green returned to the game with 7:55 left in the third quarter and Southern clinging to a four-point lead. She didn’t leave the game again until 1:03 remained and she had made a free throw to give the Jaguars a nine-point lead with 1:03 left.
“At halftime I was begging the trainer to let me go back in,” Green said. “Coach told me I needed to push through it, and that’s what I did. I was in pain, but I couldn’t whine about it.”
Green was tentative when she re-entered the game and the Lady Tigers (11-11, 5-6) got within three when Derica Wiggins, who finished with a game-high 16 points, made a 3-pointer. On Southern’s next possession, Green had the ball in the circle, made a fake and drove to the basket for a layup. Two possessions later, she did the same thing.
She scored on another drive with 58 seconds left in the quarter as she scored the Jaguars’ last six points of the quarter.
Bridget Robinson, the only other Lady Tiger to score in double figures (12), scored on a drive that gave JSU a 47-45 lead after three quarters.
Green’s teammates took over at the start of the fourth. Jadea Brundidge, returning from a one-game suspension for an ejection, made two baskets; Britney Washington made a 3-pointer; and Cornei Purnell hit a jumper as the Jaguars took a 55-49 lead.
Green scored once more on a drive and twice made a free throw after grabbing an offensive rebound.
“I tease her all the time about being Robin, playing second fiddle,” Pugh said. “I told her in the locker room after the game that I was glad to see Batman show up.”
Pugh was also glad to see the Jaguars respond in a positive way after a sluggish performance in a 65-52 loss at Grambling on Saturday.
JSU led 15-14 before Southern ended the first quarter with a strong run. Brundidge made two layups and Williams made two layups on passes from Washington as the Jaguars finished on a 10-0 run to lead 24-15 after the quarter.
“It was important that we got into a rhythm early,” Pugh said.
Southern went cold and the lead shrunk.
But then Batman came to the rescue.