Jazmyne Victorian of UAPB drives to basket around Crystal Anyiem of Texas Southern on Saturday. (Special to The Commercial/Mike Adam)
The Arkansas-Pine Bluff Lady Lions had no answer for Teera Williams as the Texas Southern Lady Tigers defeated SWAC foe UAPB 65-61 at H.O. Clemmons Arena on Saturday night.
“We didn’t really have an answer for (Williams),” UAPB head coach Nate Kilbert said. “She was the difference in the ball game.
“That was the one person we could not stop and she really hurt us on the defensive end.”
Williams finished the night with 22 points and 16 rebounds, including 11 on the defensive side of the ball. Williams was 4 of 14 from the floor, but she made 14 of her 17 free throws on the night.
Coming into the game, Kilbert’s primarily concerns on defense were Gianne Fleming and Brianna Sidney. UAPB held those two to just 12 total points.
It was Texas Southern’s post play from Williams and Morgan Simmons, who finished with 17 points and eight rebounds, that hurt UAPB.
“Otherwise, I thought our defense was pretty good,” Kilbert said. “They people we were really worried about was Fleming and (Sidney).
“They were the three-point shooters. They were the people that like to drive the basket.”
Kilbert said he wasn’t worried about Simmons and Williams, and ‘those were the people that killed us at the post position.’
UAPB (6-10, 2-4 SWAC) led Texas Southern (8-9, 5-1) 27-23 at halftime. But the Lady Tigers started the second half with a 6-0 run to tie the game.
“I think the beginning of the second half set the tone for them,” Kilbert said. “We had a six-point lead and we wanted to try to get into double figures early in the second half.
“And we just turned the ball over. I think they probably scored six points on us in the 30 seconds.”
Fleming started the second half with a jump shot near the baseline and Sidney followed with an easy layup. Kayla West capped off the run with a transition lay-up to tie the game at 27.
“You can’t do that against a team like Texas Southern,” Kilbert said. “They did a good job of taking us out of what we wanted to do.”
After being down as much as nine points in the second half, UAPB was able to take a 54-53 lead with 4:07 left in the game when senior Chi Chi Okwumbua made a free throw.
The lead wouldn’t last long as Williams knocked down a pair of free throws with 3:51 left and West followed with a two-point bucket to give the Lady Tigers a 57-54 lead.
“I feel good about our kids,” Kilbert said. “They came back. We just didn’t have enough defensive rebounds down the stretch to win the ball game.
“They killed us on the boards.”
The Lady Lions outrebounded the Lady Tigers 43-41.
UAPB was 38 percent (23 of 60) from the floor and 41 percent (5 of 12) from the three-point range. The Lady Lions made 10 of their 13 free throws.
Texas Southern shot 33 percent (21 of 62) from the floor and were 2 of 20 from the three-point arch. The Lady Tigers made 21 of 29 from the charity stripe.
“That was the difference in the game,” Kilbert said, referring to the free throws. “They were more aggressive going to the basket and they got the calls.”
UAPB freshman Cassidy Wright, who averages 11 points per game, finished Saturday with 12 points to lead the Lady Lions in scoring. Ten of her points came in the second half.
Okwumbua and senior Lakendra Marsh contributed with 10 points each.
“We played well enough offensively, we just didn’t get those rebounds,” Kilbert said. “We had too many turnovers at key times during the game, which led to easy baskets for them.
“You can’t do that against a good team like this.”
Texas Southern is currently second in the conference. Southern University is in first with a 6-1 record in the SWAC.
“They aren’t at top of the conference for no reason,” Kilbert said. “They got a good ball club, but they were beatable tonight.”
The Lady Lions will host conference opponent Prairie View A&M on Monday beginning at 5:30 p.m.
“We have a lot of young kids out there playing well for us,” Kilbert said. “We will just have to live with what happened.
“I like what they did tonight. Hopefully we will just keep improving from that.”