An early second half stumble by Arkansas-Pine Bluff turned a manageable five-point deficit into a 15-point hole as the Lady Lions lost 84-70 to Southern Saturday night at H.O. Clemmons Arena.
“We turned the ball over at the beginning of the second half and that really separated them from us,” UAPB head coach Nate Kilbert said. “The first five minutes separated them.
“But at the same, even with those turnovers, if we had made some free throws, we might have had a chance down the stretch to win it.”
The loss hands UAPB its 13th straight defeat as they move to 1-13 on the season and 0-4 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Going into the second half, UAPB trailed Southern (8-5, 5-0) by just five points. But a couple of turnovers and easy baskets for Southern led to a 10-0 run, giving the Lady Jaguars a 47-32 lead with 16:38 left in the game.
“I thought the beginning of the second half was the most important time,” Kilbert said. “I think they got like three lay-ups when nobody was between them and the basket.
“You can’t do that against a team like Southern.”
Quitesha Scott got the run started thanks to a steal and a quick bucket to start the second half. Jasmine Jefferson followed with an offensive rebound and put-back to give Southern a 41-32 lead with 18:16 left.
A jumper by Kendra Coleman and back-to-back buckets by Jefferson gave Southern the 15-point lead. Jefferson scored a game-high 20 points on 9 of 16 shooting.
“The beginning of the second half was the roughest part of the game,” Kilbert said.
UAPB didn’t get on the board in the second half until Jazmyne Victorian hit one of her two free throws with 16:19 left in the game. She then followed with an offensive rebound and put-back and a second bucket to cut the deficit to 47-37.
Her turnaround jumper with more than 13 minutes left trimmed the deficit to 49-41. But that would be as close as UAPB would get for the rest of the game.
“I didn’t feel like Southern every really stopped us on anything we were doing either,” Kilbert said. “We just missed free throws.
“… We didn’t stop them a whole lot either. I feel like if you can pressure Southern — and we can’t because we aren’t fast enough — you can give them problems.”
Victorian finished with 16 points on 7 of 8 shooting but was 2 of 6 from the free-throw line.
As a team, UAPB was 16 of 32 from the free-throw line and 25 of 44 from the floor. They were 4 of 12 from the three-point line and pulled down 34 rebounds.
“I think if we had made our free throws, we still would have had a chance,” Kilbert said. “Some of these kids that are missing free throws, we think are pretty good free-throw shooters.
“We just got to shoot free throws better. Hopefully we will start shooting them better and get more confident.”
The Lady Lions did start applying some full-court pressure with about a minute left in the game and it led to a couple of turnovers by Southern.
Cassidy Wright grabbed a steal and a bucket and after a pair of missed free throws, Charisse Carr stole a pass and scored to make the score 81-67. Destiny Ham scored a quick two and UAPB was able to get within 12 points.
“We know we can’t do that the full game though,” Kilbert said. “We just don’t have the personnel to do it.
“But we had to do something, because we knew they were going to run the clock out. We got a couple of steals out of it and got the game a little closer.”
Wright led UAPB with 18 points on 7 of 11 shooting. Christina Lasane scored 11 and Carlisha Walker contributed with 10 points.
For Southern, Kendra Coleman scored 15 and Adrian Sanders contributed with 17. Britney Washington chipped in with 13.
UAPB will continue its homestand when it hosts Alcorn State on Monday beginning at 5:30 p.m.