A battle between two of the top defensive women’s teams in the Southwestern Athletic Conference turned into a high-scoring contest Monday afternoon at the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
Southern and Alabama State both surpassed their season averages in points, but it was the Jaguars who came out on top with a 79-63 win.
Southern (9-13, 7-4 SWAC) got season-high scoring performances from Genovea Johnson (23 points) and Raven White (16 points) as it withstood a third-quarter rally by Alabama State. The Hornets (3-19, 3-8) never led in the game, but they rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to force a tie at 43-43 midway through the third.
Southern moved back out to a 54-49 lead entering the fourth quarter and steadily pulled away down the stretch.
“We knew they would play hard,” Southern coach Carlos Funchess said. “(Alabama State) coach Freda Jackson has won multiple championships in this league. She’s got a young team, but they always come in and battle and scrap.”
Alabama State came into the game shooting 61.5% from the free-throw line. The Hornets made 16 of 17 in the third quarter alone and were 28 of 36 for the game.
In the third quarter, the Hornets scored on their first seven possessions to slice a 37-27 Southern lead to 43-41. Ashley Gray’s free throws tied the score, but Southern took the lead for good on a free throw by Johnson.
In the last three minute of the quarter, Southern forced three turnovers and scored each time to take a 54-49 lead into the final 10 minutes.
Alabama State was led by Justina Graham, who was 10 of 10 at the line and totaled a season-high 22 points.
Southern opened up an 11-2 lead to start the game and went on to hold a comfortable lead for most of the half.
Alabama State cut into Southern’s lead to trail 20-17 early in the second quarter, but the Jaguars quickly moved back out to a double-digit lead. Aleighyah Fontenot hit a 3 from the right wing, and Johnson converted a three-point play to start a 14-3 Southern run.
The Southern defense forced 12 turnovers in the half to help the Jaguars build the 37-27 lead at the break.