KENNESAW, Ga. – Nine miles up the road in an exhibition game on Friday night, the Southern Polytechnic State University women’s basketball team battled the NCAA Division I Kennesaw State University Owls before suffering a 79-75 loss in overtime at the KSU Convocation Center.
“The ladies did a great job of following the game plan,” Southern Polytechnic head coach Laquanda Dawkins said. “One thing we kept stressing throughout the game is that we weren’t going to change what we were doing, and it was just a matter of us executing.
“We just came up short in the end. Scheduling-wise, it was a great game for us. It was a great test for us early on. As a staff, we wanted realize where our team was against a good caliber team like Kennesaw State.”
Southern Poly led 3-0 but never again until 10 seconds into overtime. The Hornets fell behind 19-7 but trimmed the deficit to 34-33 at halftime. The Owls increased their lead to 48-38 with 12 minutes to go in the second half before SPSU fought back to tie the contest at 66-66 on senior guard Ashlie Billingslea’s three-pointer with 0.7 seconds left, sending it into overtime. Southern Poly established a pair of two-point advantages in the extra period but KSU finished with an 11-5 run.
“Ashlie Billingslea’s going to be there to take those shots for us,” Dawkins said. “She’s our leader and only returner.”
Both teams ended with 29 made field goals with the Hornets taking 74 attempts (39.2 percent) to Kennesaw State’s 58 (50.0 percent). The Owls committed 26 turnovers but had a 43-39 edge in rebounds.
Billingslea tallied game highs of 24 points and seven assists while playing 42 minutes for SPSU while junior forward Erica Turner also scored 24, shooting 8-of-15 from the floor and 8-of-9 from the free throw line, and grabbed five rebounds in 43 minutes. Junior center Arnissa Galloway collected 13 points and eight boards in 34 minutes off the bench while junior guards Sarah Ogoke and Quentessa Bullock added seven rebounds and three steals, respectively.
“We’re extremely excited about tonight but just a little disappointed that we came up short and didn’t get the win,” Dawkins said. “We have a lot we can go back and learn from to improve and get better.”
Southern Poly opens the regular season on Saturday by hosting a non-conference contest with the Bryan College Lady Lions. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Hornets Nest.