JACKSON, Miss. – The Southern Polytechnic State University women’s basketball team started Southern States Athletic Conference play on Friday with a 51-37 road win over the Belhaven University Blazers at Rugg Arena.
“I'm very proud of our ladies' efforts,” Southern Polytechnic head coach Laquanda Dawkins said. “They are working hard and want to be coached. We are progressing as a unit too. That's all we can ask for.”
Southern Poly scored the first five points of the game and never trailed. The Hornets led 22-10 with 3:55 left in the first half and had a 26-19 advantage at the intermission. Belhaven got to within four points, 34-30, with 9:54 to go but SPSU finished with a 17-7 run.
“We earned our first conference win on the road,” Dawkins said. “Thank goodness our defense is clicking for us because our offense is just OK. We are taking good shots yet we are not finishing them like I know we are capable of. We are rebounding pretty well on both ends of the floor to offset our poor shooting from the field.” Despite shooting 31.6 percent (18-of-57) from the field, Southern Poly held the Blazers to just 25.5 percent (14-of-55). The Hornets ended at 65.0 percent (13-of-20) from the free throw line, compared to only 33.3 percent (6-of-18) for the hosts. SPSU outrebounded Belhaven 46-42.
“I strongly believe that rebounding and defense will win games,” Dawkins said. “That's what we stress to our team daily. We will play hard, take care of the ball and transition on every opportunity provided to us. That's how we want to play.”
For Southern Poly, junior center Arnissa Galloway posted a double-double with a game-high 12 points and 12 rebounds while junior forward Erica Turner registered 11 points and seven boards. Senior guard Ashlie Billingslea had 11 points and four assists while junior guard Sarah Ogoke contributed 12 rebounds, along with game bests of seven steals and five assists.
The Hornets are 3-0 overall while the Blazers, who also began SSAC play on Friday, drop to 2-4. SPSU is back on the road on Saturday when facing the William Carey University Lady Crusaders in a conference contest. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. Central time (4 p.m. Eastern) in Hattiesburg, Miss., with the Southern Poly-William Carey men’s game following.