The Stephen F. Austin women's basketball team shook off a sluggish start to overcome the Coppin State women's basketball team at William R. Johnson on Tuesday, 72-59, earning their first win of the season and starting the home schedule off with a win. The Ladyjacks (1-1) took advantage of 28 Coppin State turnovers in the contest to pull away in the second half and earn the win.
Chanell Hayes and Stevi Parker each tallied 18 points to pace the Ladyjacks, who shot 42.1 percent (24-57) in the game and 62.5 percent (20-32) from the free throw line. Parker also tallied 10 rebounds to finish with her first double-double effort of the season. SFA would take a five point lead into the fourth quarter and nearly triple that lead by game's end to coast to a comfortable margin of victory in the home opener.
"I'm happy with the outcome", I'm not happy necessarily with how it happened", said SFA head coach Mark Kellogg. "We didn't play great, but I know we'll get better. We still aren't making many shots, but as I tell the kids 'if you don't play well, you just try and get better from winning, it's much easier to get better from a win than a loss. Either way we've got to get better, and we all know that. Overall I'm proud of the kids, they battled, they fought through and for the most part I think we did a pretty good job."
After falling behind 4-1 early in the contest, the Ladyjacks scored sevens straight points over the next four minutes of play to take an 8-4 lead early. The Eagles would rally back, however, and claim a 15-13 first quarter lead after shooting just under 50 percent in the frame.
In the second quarter, a scoreless drought by both teams spanned nearly three minutes, before a flurry of scoring took over in the period. A layup by Lovisa Brunnberg split up a pair of Coppin State layups around the seventh minute mark, before a triple by the Eagles opened up a 22-16 lead with just over six minutes to play in the half. Brunnberg had a quick answer on the other end with a trifecta of her own, and a layup by freshman forward Aaliyah Johnson cut the lead to just one with 5:13 left in the quarter. After Coppin State's Genesis Lucas scored a layup with four minutes remaining, the Eagles became mired in a scoring drought of their own, as SFA outscored them 6-0 the rest of the way into the halftime break to take a 27-24 lead.
In the third quarter, the Ladyjacks slowly began to turn the tables on the visitors, even as they battled to a nearly identical scoring output in the quarter (23-21). A basket by Stevi Parker tied the game up at 38-38 with 4:33 remaining, and shortly thereafter after the 'Jacks got baskets from Marissa Banfield and Chanell Hayes to push their lead to four with 3:25 remaining. SFA would answer several Coppin baskets with points of their own as the quarter wound down, before a pair of Hayes free throws pushed the lead to a brief game-high seven points.
After three quarters of close play that seemed to lend itself to a climactic fourth-quarter, it was instead a decisive offensive outburst from the 'Jacks to put the game away that became the story of the finale. A 10-0 run to begin the fourth quarter came courtesy of a two-woman wrecking crew of Parker an Aaliyah Johnson, each of whom scored two buckets and a free throw to turn a five point lead into a 15-point lead in a matter of minutes. That run may not have taken the wind out from beneath the Eagles, as they would cut the lead to single digits with less than four minutes remaining, but it did prove to be just the boost the 'Jacks needed to close out the contest.
While the offense continued it's struggles from the Kansas State game just four days ago, the 'Jacks defense was overall effective when it needed to be, and held the Eagles' leading scorer, Genesis Lucas, largely in check. Lucas did manage 18 points in the contest, but took 21 shots to do so and also finished with six of Coppin State's 28 turnovers in the contest. SFA was outrebounded by Coppin State 41-31 in the contest, which led to a 15-11 advantage in second chance points for CSU, but the 'Jacks were able to scoop up 11 offensive boards of their own to continue a strong start to the season in that area. SFA shot just 42.1 percent from the field in the game and finished 4-20 (20 percent) from beyond the arc, an area which is supposed to be a strength for the team.
"It's going to take us a little time to get going", said Kellogg. "I think we're going to be a good shooting team, and I know we're probably like 7-45 through two games form three, and that's not good. "I know we're a better shooting team than that. We did a good job getting to the line, didn't convert them all but we got there, and that's a good sign when you're not hitting the shots from deep, and it often helps you get going from deep."
Aside from the efforts of Hayes and Parker, several other Ladyjacks made notable contributions in the contest, with point guard Taylor Jackson scoring nine points and dishing out four assists, while Aaliyah Johnson may have added her name to the point guard pool with four dimes of her own to go along with nine points, three rebounds and a block, all career-highs. Marissa Banfield and Lovisa Brunnberg both finished with seven points for SFA.