The no. 25 LSU Shreveport Lady Pilots took down their former Red River Athletic Conference foe, the Texas Wesleyan Lady Rams, on Friday night 62-60 in the opening game of the SAGU Classic. LSUS' Dionecia Warr made only one shot but she made it count as she sank the winning bucket with four seconds to play after collecting the offensive rebound.
Both teams struggled shooting the basketball from the field as LSUS shot a slim 28-percent while the Lady Rams made 35-percent. The Lady Pilots made just 20-percent of their shots in the first half and only trailed by two, 24-22, at the half.
Head Coach Ronnie Howell, who is in his 11th season at the helm of the Lady Pilots, knows his club could have played much better but is excited about tonight's win, "Neither team can say that they played their best. We really struggled shooting the ball, especially in the first half. I was proud of the way we overcame the rough first half and shot it a little better in the second half, which was enough for the win tonight."
LSUS had three scorers net double figures with Kiara Taylor leading the way off the bench with 16 points while Shanovia Gamblin had 15 and Byroneshia Santiago a dozen. Taylor and Gamblin charged up the struggling offense draining eight of the nine total three's made by the Lady Pilots.
"You can't say enough about the role played tonight by Kiara and Shanovia. They both hit some big shots," Coach Howell continued. The Lady Pilots made 26-percent from downtown netting sinking nine of 24 attempts. On the other hand Texas Wesleyan struggled to get good looks from the outside against the Lady Pilots defense as they attempted only 13 from beyond the arc and made only four.
The Lady Pilots won their season-opener game on the glass, a category that they lost on paper against the much taller Lady Rams squad. LSUS collected 51 total rebounds while cleaning the glass 19 times on the offensive end. Seven of the eight Lady Pilots that played had at least three rebounds with Santiago leading the way with nine rebounds while Jenna Diakos had eight on a night where she also struggled shooting just two of 10 from the field finishing with six points.
Texas Wesleyan (1-2) grabbed 47 boards including 14 offensive rebounds.
"Texas Wesleyan has a good team, they were picked to finish in the top tier of their conference. They are a lot taller than we are; I was proud of how we outplayed them on the boards tonight," Coach Howell said.
Texas Wesleyan received votes in the preseason NAIA top 25 poll and picked to finish fourth in a tough Sooner Athletic Conference but they struggled shooting tonight as they had only two in double figures led by Kashay Barnes who netted the game's high of 18 points while Takoia Larry added 10 points. The Lady Rams shot 35-percent from the field and was eight of 13 from the free-throw line while the Lady Pilots were a bit more accurate from the charity strip making 13 of 16.
The Lady Pilots picked up their six straight win over the Lady Rams and have now won seven of the 11 meetings between the two schools since 2007. "We have always had barnburners against each other and tonight was no different," Coach Howell ended.