By: Michael Hanich | Sports Editor
After a disappointing 85-68 road loss to in-state rivals Troy Trojans, the South Alabama Jaguars women’s basketball program needed a big win to get back on track. On Thursday night, the Jaguars took on a heavily favored Louisiana Ragin Cajuns team needing to gain some traction as a complete team. The women took control of the game from the beginning and did not let up. The Jaguars took the lead away from the Ragin Cajuns with 6:44 to go in the first quarter and they didn’t look back. The Jaguars won decisively against the Ragin Cajuns at home in the Mitchell Center last Thursday night with a 78-63 score.
In the first quarter, the Jaguars were shooting with high-efficiency shooting 8-for-16 on overall field goals. They were 5-for-7 from the three-point arc with guard Savannah Jones and Shaforia Kines shooting with great precision. Defensively, the Jaguars were stout and making every shot selection difficult for the Ragin Cajuns. The Ragin Cajuns were making only 31.3% of their shots by shooting 5-for-16. The Jags lead 21-10 going into the second quarter.
Savannah Jones accounted for 13 points and shooting 3-for-3 in consecutive possessions from the three-point arc in the first quarter. In the second quarter, she continued to shoot lights out by shooting two more three-point baskets. Jones scored eight points in the second quarter and center Antoinette Lewis was getting to the free-throw line easily by forcing fouls from the Ragin Cajuns. Lewis made 3-of-her-4 free throws and accounted for five points in the second quarter. The Jags took a 42-24 lead into halftime thanks to Jones’ efficient shooting of 7-of-10 in field goals and 5-for-5 from behind the three-point arc. She scored 21 points in the first half.
With an impressive lead by the Jags, they couldn’t afford to allow fatigue to settle in for a potential Ragin Cajuns’ comeback to start. Offensively, the Jaguars faced some inconsistencies shooting the ball as they were 4-for-12 in overall field goals. They only scored 13 points in the third quarter with five of those points coming from the free-throw line. The Jaguars also committed seven turnovers. South still kept their foot on the pedal defensively with the Ragin Cajuns shooting 6-for-15 (40%) of total shot selections.
In the fourth quarter, the Ragin Cajuns took this newfound momentum into the fourth quarter. The Ragin Cajuns turned the game into a five-point differential 2:47 minutes into the fourth quarter. During the time, the Jags committed two fouls and two turnovers.
Shortly after, forward Kennedi Centers made her layup and forced a foul from the Ragin Cajuns to making a three-point play. In the fourth quarter, the Jaguars did a great job of distributing the ball to six impact scorers. The Jags were making 66.7% of their total shots (8-for-12) in the fourth quarter. This game continued to be a standout performance on the defensive side of the ball for South Alabama. The Ragin Cajuns only made 46.7% of their shots (7-for-15) in the fourth quarter. South Alabama outscored the Ragin Cajuns 23-22 in the fourth quarter despite jumpstart by Louisiana at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Overall, the Jags shot an efficient 49.1% (26-for-53) in field-goal percentage and 52.9% (9-for-17) from the three-point arc. Guard Savannah Jones accounted for 26 points by shooting 8-for-14 in field-goals and 5-for-5 from behind the three-point arc. She also accounted for nine rebounds and five assists. Guard Shaforia Kines accounted for 16 points by shooting 6-for-12 in field-goals and 3-for-6 from the three-point behind the three-point arc. Center Antoinette Lewis accounted for 13 points. The Jags crashed the paint defensively and made the Ragin Cajuns’ shot selections difficult. The Jaguars held the Ragin Cajuns to make only 37.7% (23-for-61) of their overall shots and 17.6% (3-for-17) of their shots from the three-point arc.
With the win, the Jaguars get back to a .500% winning record with an overall record of 11-11 and a 6-4 record in Sun Belt play. The Jaguars will play their next game on the road as they take on the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (3-18; 1-9 in Sun Belt play).