Southern women host Valley _lowres

Advocate file photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- Britney Washington, left, and the Southern women are using their depth and pressure defense as they prepare for Mississippi Valley State on Monday night in the F.G. Clark Activity Center..

The Southern women’s basketball team completes the first third of its Southwestern Athletic Conference schedule when it plays Mississippi Valley State on Monday in the F.G. Clark Activity Center. Tip-off is 5:30 p.m., and the game will be shown live on CST.

The Jaguars (5-10, 3-2) appear to have a found a weapon they can use more during the heart of their conference schedule. Their pressure defense helped create 15 steals and 24 turnovers that led to 30 points in a 69-42 victory against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday.

“I feel like sometimes at practice, we’re so busy trying to plug other holes that we never seemed to get to our pressure defense segments like we needed to,” Southern coach Sandy Pugh said. “Definitely going forward, we need to be looking to do more of that.”

Southern found time to emphasize the pressure defense last week.

“The last few days, we’ve been working on it a lot, and I think we executed it well,” guard Britney Washington said. “That’s something we’ve got to keep working on.

“I like pushing up and making teams commit turnovers, and I think everyone else does too. It feels good when you get a steal in the open court and get fast-break points. And we live on fast-break points.”

Guard Kendra Coleman said Pugh’s using the Jaguars depth makes it easier to play pressure defense for extended periods because players can get more breaks.

(Pugh) is subbing a lot,” Coleman said. “And that gives everyone a chance to pressure the ball.”

Pugh played 13 players Saturday, and all but two played at least 13 minutes. Only Coleman (29) and Jasmine Jefferson (21) played more than 19 minutes.

“We’re rotating kids in and out,” Pugh said. “We’re getting there.”

Pugh has been able to get deep into her bench even though she’s missing two of her inside players. Kenidi Robinson is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery for a broken bone in her chin. Yasmine Nelson likely will miss her third straight game because of a sprained knee. She might return next weekend.

Washington returned to the starting lineup Saturday. She started early in the season before returning to the sixth-man role she thrived in last season. She said she’s comfortable in either role.

“I prefer to sit on the bench because I like to see what’s going on. But at the same time, I like the rush at the beginning,” Washington said. “Everyone seems to have fresh legs and is ready to play, so I don’t really have a preference.”

Pugh said she’s tinkering with different combinations, though a couple of staples won’t change.

“Kendra and Jas are a duo,” Pugh said. “They’ve been a duo for four years. I like the ball in Kendra’s hands. I think it gets her going. She doesn’t have to look for her shot. The ball’s in her hands, and she can run some things and get her a look at the basket. So I really trust her with the ball. I think she’s going to make good decisions.”

Next up are the Devilettes (2-13, 0-4). They’re 0-10 on the road and are second-to-last in the SWAC in scoring margin (minus-11.2), though they narrowly lost at Alcorn State (52-47) on Saturday.

Follow Les East on Twitter @EastAdvocate.