LORMAN, Miss. — The Southern women had won five consecutive games to regain control of their fate in the Southwestern Athletic Conference race.
But on Saturday, the winning streak came to an end and the Jaguars title hopes diminished in an 85-74 loss to Alcorn State in the Davey L. Whitney Complex.
Southern couldn’t stop the Lady Braves from getting to the basket, never got into a rhythm offensively and couldn’t overcome foul trouble.
As a result the Jaguars (15-10, 12-4) are two games behind first-place Texas Southern, which comes to the F.G. Clark Activity on Thursday for the second-to-last game of the regular season.
Alcorn, which lost to Southern 66-57 four weeks ago, is 6-10 and 9-17 after winning for the fifth time in six games.
“We didn’t have any intensity whatsoever from start to finish,” said forward Briana Green, whose performance mirrored that of the team as she scored 21 of her 25 points during a frenzied fourth-quarter attempt to overcome an 18-point deficit.
Miaya Crowder scored 14 points and Cortnei Purnell had 11 for the Jaguars, who made 14-of-23 free throws compared to the Lady Braves’ 31-of-40 foul shooting.
“We were lazy on defense,” coach Sandy Pugh said. “We just stood and watched them do what they do. You’re going to get beat when you give up that many point blank.”
Alcorn’s Norianna Haynes, who leads the SWAC in scoring (20.5) and rebounding (9.5), had her league-leading 11th double-double.
She scored 32, making 7-of-16 field goals and 18-of-23 free throws, and grabbed 10 rebounds.
“Our biggest problem was we fouled her,” said Purnell, who helped hold Haynes to eight points on 3-of-18 shooting, and nine rebounds in the first meeting. “We did a pretty good job on her on the perimeter, but she got a lot of points at the free-throw line.”
The Lady Braves had a nine-point lead at halftime and quickly expanded it by getting to the basket repeatedly in the third quarter.
Their first four field goals came at the rim as they quickly went up by 15. They made two more layups in taking their biggest lead at 55-33 and took an 18-point lead into the fourth quarter.
“We gave up way too many drives to the basket,” Purnell said. “We got in foul trouble because our post players kept having to help on drives.”
Green fouled out and she, Jadea Brundidge, Kenidi Robinson and Ashley Williams all had to sit after getting into foul trouble.
In the fourth quarter, Green almost single-handedly put together a charge, but Alcorn — usually Haynes — always had answer.
Eight points by Green helped the Jaguars get within 10 with seven minutes left and they had a chance to get closer, but Haynes made a steal and a layup.
Green scored 12 more points as Southern got within eight points on four occasions, but each time Alcorn scored on its next possession.
Twice it was Haynes who stopped the momentum and the Braves finished it off at the foul line.
“Coach told me what I had to do in the fourth quarter and I did what I had to do,” Green said.
But by that time, the Jaguars had dug too deep a hole to win a game in which they allowed their most points to a SWAC opponent since a 100-92 victory against Grambling on Jan. 11, 2014.
— Follow Les East on Twitter, @EastAdvocate.