Branch Leads SFA to Wild Comeback Over Lamar, 79-77

Branch Leads SFA to Wild Comeback Over Lamar, 79-77

From SFA Athletics

BEAUMONT, TX (Press Release)- Junior guard Brentney Branch has proven over the course of her career that she can score points in a hurry. Walking onto the court for the start of the fourth quarter, she had that look in her eye. The one where you could tell that she was about do something special.

Branch went off for 14 points in the final 10 minutes to help the Stephen F. Austin women's basketball team erase a late 16-point deficit and rally to knock off Lamar, 79-77, inside the Montagne Center on Thursday night. The come-from-behind victory extends the Ladyjacks' league-best winning streak to seven games dating back to Jan. 23.

Trailing by 16 points, 64-48, with less than a minute to play in the third, SFA mounted an impressive 23-4 run to take its first lead since the opening seconds of the game. Sophomore forward Danielle Rogers banked in a jumper in the paint and junior guard Taylor Ross came up with a steal and converted the resulting fast break layup to catapult the 'Jacks in front 71-68.

Branch sparked the streak, splashing in three triples and capitalizing on a three-point play all in the first 4:31 of the fourth quarter. She stroked in smooth baseline jumper and was fouled at the 5:29 mark before completing the and-one at the line to cut Lamar's lead to two at 66-64.

Branch got a tip-in to go with 1:49 to play, extending SFA's lead to 75-71. Free throws by Ross, senior captain Taylor Schippers and freshman guard Chanell Hayes put the game away from there.

After going down 16 points late in the third, the Ladyjacks were able to end the game on a 31-10 spurt. A garbage time three-pointer by Lamar as time expired made it a two-point final margin.

Branch finished with a team-high 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting, including a 4-of-9 mark from distance. With her second long-ball of the night, she moved into sole possession of seventh on SFA's all-time three-point field goals made list. Branch has hit 140 triples over her career, passing SFA's all-time leading scorer Katrina Price (1994-98) for made threes.

For the 10th time during the 2015-16 season, the Ladyjacks got double digit scoring from four players. Schippers and junior center Adrienne Lewis each contributed 16 points with Lewis going 8-for-12 from the field and Schippers making three shots from beyond the arc. Rogers added 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting and posted a team best six rebounds and three blocks.

Lewis registered the first bucket of the game in the first minute of play, but Lamar answered with a 13-2 run over the next 4:35 to take control at 13-4. Both teams shot below 26.0 percent in the first quarter but the Cardinals finished on top, 15-9.

Schippers kept the Ladyjacks afloat in the second quarter, scoring eight points with two three-pointers. She led all scorers at halftime with nine points, but her team still trailed heading into the locker rooms, 34-26.

The third quarter belonged to Lewis, who scored half of SFA's 24 points in the frame. For a stretch, she was about the only answer for the Cardinals' Addesha Collins, who scored 20 of her 29 points in the third.

Hampered with foul trouble throughout the evening, Ross didn't find her normal offensive flow. She did manage six crucial points in the final quarter and dished out six assists.

The Ladyjacks forced 20 turnovers led by a career-high five steals from freshman guard Kennedy Harris. She added seven points and five boards.

The Ladyjacks will next make their way to Thibodaux, Louisiana to meet up with Nicholls for a 1:00 p.m. tip on Saturday afternoon. It will be the only matchup between the two Southland Conference programs during the regular season.