South Alabama women's basketball still looking for first win after falling to Nicholls State Wednesday
South Alabama's Meghan Dunn drives toward the basket in Wednesday night's loss to Nicholls State at the Mitchell Center. The loss dropped the Jaguars to 0-3 on the season. (Photo by Scott Donaldson, courtesy of South Alabama)
-- A faulty finish to the first half of play created a cushion for the visiting team as team fell to 0-3 on the season Wednesday night in a 68-60 loss to at the Mitchell Center.
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Falling behind 3-0 to start the game, the Jaguars reeled off 13 unanswered points to take a 13-3 lead in the first half. But the Colonels responded, knotting the game at 18-all with 6:23 to play in the first half. The teams were tied 22-22 at the 2:00 mark but Nicholls outscored South Alabama 8-2 the rest of the half for a 30-24 halftime advantage.
The Jags, who had 24 points and 17 turnovers in the first half, would get no closer than three points the rest of the way as they made some short runs but could not reclaim the lead.
"I thought we came out with a lot of energy and I thought we were ready to go,'' head coach said of the Jags. "We got some early turnovers and I thought they had some jitters. After the first or second timeout I thought we settled down a little bit but their match-up zone, which is basically a switching man, gave us some problems and we just turned the ball over too many times, especially in the first half.
"I thought we had chances in the first half to have a lead and probably even expand on it,. I didn't think we were aggressive enough because we only shot one free throw in the first half as well.''
The second half found the Jags committing fewer turnovers (eight) and doing a better job defensively, as well as playing a little more aggressively, but it would not be enough to overtake Nicholls State and get the first win of the season.
"We gave them a chance to just line up and shoot some open threes,'' Fowler said. "We thought we had a great chance of getting in but we just didn't finish it off and (Nicholls) did a great job of handling the ball and running down the clock at the end,'' Fowler said.
Fowler said he believes fatigue played a factor in South Alabama's struggles at the end of the first half that allowed Nicholls State, 2-1, to build a lead. "We're just not tough with the basketball right now,'' he said. "Even with those last two possessions (of the first half) even if we go down two at the half we're feeling good. Instead we go down six and it's their ball to start the second half.''
Meghan Dunn led the Jags with 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting that included a 3-of-5 showing from 3-point range. Rachel Cumbo was 4-of-8 from the floor and 1-of-4 in treys and finished with 12 points and seven rebounds. Breanna Hall added nine points, with Ronneka Robertson grabbing six boards.
Emani White scored a game-high 26 points for the Colonels, making 8-of-18 shots and 3-of-6 threes. KK Babin added 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting that included a 7-of-9 3-point showing. That's a record by an opponent for most 3-pointers made against the Jags. Nicholls State's 13 3-points is the most by an opposing teams since Middle Tennessee on Feb. 1, 2010.
South Alabama's Jennifer Johnson, who was suspended prior to the Southern Miss game for a violation of team rules, was reinstated to the team before the game and scored six points while grabbing four rebounds. She was injured and not expected to rejoin the team until December but was cleared to play at the start of the season,. Still, Fowler said she has "some rust to shake off'' before she will be 100 percent in terms of conditioning.
This is the first 0-3 start for South Alabama since the 1999-2000 season.
South Alabama returns to action Monday night against Houston Baptist at the Mitchell Center. Tipoff is set for 7:05 p.m.