NORTH MIAMI, Fla. – After players took their final exams and not playing a game since Dec. 1, the Southern Polytechnic State University women’s basketball team returned to action on Saturday in fine form, rolling past the host Johnson & Wales University Lady Wildcats 83-45 at the Wildcat Center. Southern Polytechnic, now 8-0 overall, received 39 points in this week’s NAIA Division I coaches’ poll to rank No. 27 nationally. Southern Poly’s start to this season is the second-best in the program’s history behind the 2009-10 squad that opened with 16 straight wins en route to finishing 30-5 overall.
“We played well yet in the first half we were a bit sloppy,” SPSU head coach Laquanda Dawkins said. “We made the necessary adjustments to secure the road win after finals.”
Southern Poly trailed early before surging ahead 47-27 at halftime. In the second half, Johnson & Wales never got any closer than the 20-point halftime margin with the Hornets taking their biggest lead at 77-37 with 5:21 remaining in the contest.
SPSU ended at 50.0 percent (32-of-64) from the field and 85.0 percent (17-of-20) from the free throw line while the Lady Wildcats shot 31.5 percent (17-of-54) and 76.9 percent (10-of-13), respectively. Southern Poly committed a season-low eight turnovers while JWU was guilty of 26. The Hornets, who had a 39-36 advantage in rebounds, finished with 13 steals to the hosts’ three.
Leading the charge for the winners was senior guard Ashlie Billingslea, who recorded game highs of 23 points, eight assists and four steals. Junior forward Erica Turner came up with 18 points, along with game bests of seven rebounds and two blocked shots while junior guard Sarah Ogoke tallied 15 points and three steals off the bench. Arnissa Galloway, a junior center, put together an 11-point, seven-rebound performance while junior guard Christa Moore added 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor.
While SPSU remains unbeaten, Johnson & Wales drops to 3-11. Southern Poly is back on the road for a non-conference contest with the Reinhardt University Lady Eagles on Wednesday in Waleska, Ga. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. with the SPSU-Reinhardt men’s game following at approximately 7:30.