Southern women erase 16-point deficit to beat Alabama State in overtime (224 hits)
BY MIKE GEGENHEIMER
That the Southern women's basketball team wasn’t down by 30 to Alabama State at halftime was nothing short of a miracle to coach Sandy Pugh. In fact, it was part of her locker room speech.
The Jaguars inexplicably clung to a nine-point deficit at the break despite being thoroughly dominated in just about every facet of the game.
They shot 6 of 25 from the field and were out rebounded 27-19. Southern forward Briana Green was virtually nonexistent, and preseason SWAC Player of the Year Britney Wright was just warming up.
But Pugh also told her players to keep their heads up and fight back. Luckily, those were the words they took to heart.
Southern erased what was at one point a 16-point deficit to defeat the two-time defending SWAC champions 59-53 in overtime.
The Jaguars outscored the Hornets 40-18 in the final 22 minutes of the game, shooting 15 of 28 (53.6 percent) from the field during the stretch. before that, Southern shot 6 of 34.
“I’m just happy to see them come back,” Pugh said. “They nipped away, they didn’t process the score, they just kept playing basketball.
“I’m really proud of their effort. They showed a lot of heart and toughness tonight.”
Pugh said she wouldn’t have been able to get her team to pull off the comeback two or three weeks ago.
The Jaguars were frustrated and showed early signs of panic against Alabama State’s aggressive full-court press.
But Southern steadily pressed through the third quarter, chipping away at the lead while it was the Hornets' turn to go cold from the field.
During the same stretch in which Southern was so hot, the Hornets shot 2 of 18.
And with a little under four minutes to play, senior Miaya Crowder hit a shot under the basket to tie the game 42-42.
From there, Southern had all the momentum it needed. The Jaguars outscored Alabama State 11-5 in overtime.
“At Southern, our quarter is the third quarter,” Green said. “That’s is the quarter coach always preaches to us coming out of the locker room. She always says, ‘If you can come out and dominate the first five minutes, then you have the game.’”
Southern slightly altered its offense in the second half to open up Green on offense against ASU’s zone defense.
But Southern guard Cortnei Purnell said the biggest difference was the team’s execution more than strategy changes.
Southern also didn’t allow Wright, who burned them for 35 points in the previous meeting, to gain much traction late in the game. She registered a double-double but was limited to 15 points this time.
“We were getting good looks, they just weren’t going in or we would turn the ball over too many times,” Purnell said. “We just had to make sure we executed on offense and played solid defense. You can always chip away at a lead the way we did if you just do the simple things, one basket at a time.”