From SFA Athletics
NACOGDOCHES, TX (Press Release)- The Stephen F. Austin women's basketball team jumped out to a 21-4 lead in the first quarter and never looked back in a dominating 82-66 victory over Incarnate Word inside the McDermott Convocation Center on Wednesday night. The Ladyjacks' ninth straight win moves them into third place in the Southland Conference standings with three games to play.
Junior guards Taylor Ross and Brentney Branch along with senior captain Taylor Schippers presented a three-headed monster offensively that UIW couldn't contain. For the 10th time this season Ross went over 20 points, finishing with a game-high 22 on 10-of-14 shooting. She added seven assists and two steals.
Branch made four three-pointers for the fourth consecutive game and the 10th time on the year and tallied 20 points. She went 4-for-6 beyond the arc and 7-for-14 overall while chipping in three assists and three steals in 19 minutes off the bench.
Schippers helped control the tempo for the Ladyjacks and notched 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting. She didn't commit a single turnover in 29 minutes of action.
It was all SFA from the first possession on Wednesday evening. Senior guard Paulletta Powellknocked down a corner three just 19 seconds into the game to start a 16-2 run for the Ladyjacks out of the gate. Branch turned a Charisma Alexander pass into three points with 1:03 to play in the opening quarter to extend that lead to 21-4.
The first half domination continued into the second quarter. Schippers splashed in a three from the top of the key and found Ross in transition after a steal to push SFA's lead to 35-13 with 5:42 left in the half. Ross later weaved her way through the UIW defense and hit a layup as time expired, giving SFA a 44-23 halftime advantage.
The SFA defensive pressure overwhelmed UIW throughout the first half as the Ladyjacks forced 16 turnovers behind nine steals. The Ladyjacks outscored the Cardinals 19-2 in points off turnovers in the first 20 minutes and 28-13 overall in the game.
Ranked 17th in the nation in steals coming in, SFA swiped 11 in the contest and made UIW cough it up 23 times total.
The 'Jacks led by as many as 28 points late in the third quarter before taking their foot off the gas a bit in the fourth. Branch sank her fourth three of the evening with 26 seconds left in the third, giving SFA its largest lead at 70-42.
A native of Houston, Branch now has 60 made three-pointers in 2015-16, ranking fifth all-time in SFA history for a single season. Wednesday's effort helped her pass Tammara Marion's 2009-10 total of 59.
SFA shot an impressive 56.7 percent from the field, converting 34-of-60 shots attempted and 9-of-17 from three-point land. Junior center Adrienne Lewis aided in that mark, going 4-for-5 with eight points and five rebounds. Powell led the 'Jacks on the glass with a team-high six boards.