Three fifth-year seniors carry Southern women in their last game on home floor

Three fifth-year seniors carry Southern women in their last game on home floor
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Senior night turned into a winning night for the Southern women’s basketball team thanks to the play of three fifth-year seniors.

Genovea Johnson, Raven White and Chloe Fleming each made key plays in the final four minutes as Southern separated from Florida A&M to claim a 67-61 win at the F.G. Clark Activity Center on Monday.

The trio combined for six points, a blocked shot and an assist after FAMU had tied the score 57-57. Aniya Gourdine then scored Southern’s final four points.

“I knew my team needed me and my energy, so I left everything out there on the court,” Johnson said. “It’s very emotional because it’s my last game in the mini dome. We’ve got the best fans in the SWAC, and we’re not done. We’ve got a lot more to go.”

Southern (13-14, 11-5) also got big production from senior Taylor Williams, who matched her career-high with 23 points. Gourdine added 11 points and Johnson scored nine.

The Jaguars shot 37.9% (22 of 58) but made up the difference by grabbing 15 offensive rebounds, which led to 21 second-chance points.

The win moves Southern into a tie for third in the SWAC standings with Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Florida A&M (8-19, 7-10) is tied for sixth.

The Rattlers led 52-49 entering the fourth quarter. Fleming immediately converted a three-point play to tie the game, and there were three more ties until White’s put-back gave Southern the lead for good at 59-57.

“Raven was solid on both ends. She’s an experienced player,” Southern coach Carlos Funchess said. “She was tough defensively guarding a smaller, agile player, and she did a good job keeping her out on the wing.”

Ahrianna Grizzle and Sydney Hendrix each scored 14 points to pace the Rattlers.

FAMU was ready to play at the opening tip. Southern’s Aleighyah Fontenot hit a 3-pointer to start the game, but the Rattlers quickly got their offense in gear. They made 9 of 14 shots in the first quarter as they took a 20-15 lead.

The Rattlers’ lead grew to 24-17 before Southern stepped up its game at both ends of the floor. Southern held FAMU to one field goal over the last seven minutes of the second quarter. The offense got a boost from Williams, who made two layups in the last minute to give the Jaguars a 34-33 halftime advantage.

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