After winning the SWAC regular season championship last year, but losing to Grambling in the 2018 SWAC Tournament, the Jaguars of Southern University had a chance to right history in the 2019 SWAC Tournament Championship game vs Jackson State University.
The contest started with both Southern and JSU shooting an abysmal FG% to start the game, with both teams shooting around 20% from the field for most of the 1st half of play.
The first quarter of play saw a low scoring ballgame, with Southern facing an early deficit due to the multitude of missed shots by the Jags and untimely turnovers that led to scores.
Beginning the second quarter down 10-6, Southern’s offense began to play with a sense of urgency that led to some of their shots beginning to fall. While the 1st quarter was offensively stagnant for Southern, Courtney Parsons scored and assisted on 8 of their 13 2nd-quarter points.
“I knew it was going to be a defensive battle coming into the game and whoever could make the most shots was going to win the basketball game,” said Coach Funchess of Southern University after the game.
Staying consistent on defense, the Jags kept Jackson State’s scoring to a minimum in the 2nd quarter, allowing them to score only 6 points on 2-12 shooting from the field.
At halftime, the Jaguars took a 20-16 lead over JSU behind strong contributions from Courtney Parsons and Taneara Moore.
The third quarter saw JSU reduce their deficit and continue to play a defense oriented game against the Jaguars.
Junior guard Marneisha Hamer, a Jackson native, played a big role for JSU trying to take back a lead, Ultimately finishing the game with 17 points and 8 boards.
Despite the defensive effort of JSU and the offensive output of Hamer, Alyric Scott and the Jags maintained their lead and began executing their offense with more efficiency than they had for the entire game up to that point.
Alyric Scott, Southern’s sophomore guard from Richton, Mississippi went on a scoring tear in the 3rd quarter to record 8 of her team-high 14-points on the night. Scott finished the game with her third double-double of the season.
“It feels great. Every night I come on the court, I do everything that I can for my teammates, and tonight, we just got the win,” said Scott on her performance after the game.
Going into the 4th quarter, the Jags held a small 33-30 lead as they looked to continue their stiff defensive play from earlier in the game.
For the greater part of the first six minutes of the 4th quarter, the Jags were left scoreless as JSU tied the game up at 33-33 behind more scoring from Marneisha Hamer.
Hitting a huge three-pointer with about 4:37 left on the game-clock, senior guard Skylar O’Bear ended the Jags scoring drought in the quarter.
Thanks to timely buckets from RiShonti Cowart and Alyric Scott, the Jags were able to pull away from JSU late in the 4th quarter.
With 45 seconds left on the game clock, Cowart scored the game-clinching layup that put the Jaguars up by four points.
The Jaguars defeated Jackson State 45-41 to win the SWAC and punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s a great honor,” said Coach Funchess on the realization that his squad would be playing in the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m happy for the kids. They’ve worked extremely hard during the offseason, and it’s been [about] eight years [since Southern’s women’s basketball last SWAC championship],” said Funchess.