South Alabama Sports – Weekend Roundup

February 24, 2014 · By · Filed Under Baseball, Basketball, Men's, Softball 

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Men’s Basketball

The Men’s basketball team took Coach Graves’ words to heart and went out and dominated the first half against Troy to help earn a 86-78 win on Saturday night at the Mitchell Center.

“What I told our guys was, this is a must win game,” head coach Matthew Graves said. “If you want to compete in New Orleans for a conference championship you have to win tonight. I thought our energy and effort from the opening tip was outstanding. We got off to a great start. The first half was as well-played a first half that we’ve had all year, on both ends of the floor. Then, in the second half, we really played to protect the lead instead of just playing the game and keep attacking. We got really conservative and I thought Troy got on a great run there. They have some tremendous shooters. Certainly if you give up 54 points in a half, you don’t expect to win very often, but our guys made enough plays down the stretch.”

The Jags jumped out to a 26 point lead in the first half but Troy would cut the lead down to only six points on two occasions in the second half but the Jags reponded each time to keep their hopes for a berth in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament alive.

Rubit earned a double-double in the game with a team-high 22 points and 10 rebounds. He also set a new career high with five assists while going 8-for-15 from the floor with two blocks. He also tied Terry Catledge for career double-doubles with 52 as he earned his 10th of the season.

Five Jaguars scored in double digits, a season-high for the team. Ken Williams added 18 points, one shy of a career high, with four assists. Senior Antoine Allen added 15 points off the bench while sophomore Barrington Stevens III and junior Mychal Ammons added 11 points each.

Williams scored 14 of his 18 points in the first half going 4-of-6 from three-point range. But then did not score again until 6:39 left in the second half, though they came at a key time for the Jaguars.

Back-to-back three-pointers by Williams sparked South Alabama to a 26-7 run to open the game.

Troy went on a 12-3 run as the Jaguars went almost six minutes without a field goal with 7:29 left in the game. But the Jags would answer with the next five points to stretch the lead back out to double digits.

“I thought we were flat,” Troy head coach Phil Cunningham said. “As I told the coaches before we left the huddle in the first half that we were flat. It’s obvious how big of a game this was, but I just sensed that we were flat. But I also sensed at halftime that we could get back in the game because in the last couple minutes of the first half, we made that little run on them. Give them credit, they made shots. They were lighting that thing up from everywhere in the first half.”

“I do think fatigue played a little bit of a factor,” Graves said of Troy’s comeback attempt. “We were on the road Thursday and with the quick turnaround and Aakim’s (Saintil) limited minutes due to foul trouble. I think those guys got tired, but at the same time, Troy has a couple guys that can really shoot the basketball. When they get feeling good and get in a rhythm, they’re certainly capable of making shots. We missed a couple switches and a couple things on our rotation. In large part, it was due to our fatigue and you have to credit Troy because they could have easily rolled over, but they kept fighting until the end.”

The Jaguars have a two-game road swing this week to close out their road games for the regular season. They will continue their fight to get into the conference tournament when they travel to Louisiana-Monroe on Thursday for a 7pm game.
Softball

The #19 ranked Jaguar softball team swept their games at the 2014 Citrus Classic hosted by Diamond 9 Events at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida over the weekend.

THey defeated Indiana-University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and East Carolina by a combined score of 14-1 on Friday to open the event. They defeated IPFW 9-0 in six innings then downed East Carolina 6-1 in the nightcap.

Blair Johnson was 4-for-6 at the plate on Friday to lead the Jags. Amanda Herron went 2-for-3, Kaitlyn Griffith went 3-for-6, Stephanie Pilkington went 3-for-7 and Taylor Rodgers went 2-for-5. Herron, in her first game as a Jaguar, recorded three RBI and a home run.
On Saturday, the Jaguars had a slugfest with Lehigh which the Jaguars won 15-9.

The Jaguars 15 runs tied for the fifth-most in program history and is the most scored since 16 runs against Southern Illinois on February 18, 2012. The nine runs allowed were the most the team has allowed since a 12-1 loss to then #3 ranked Alabama on February 11, 2012.

USA out-hit Lehigh 16-10. Blair Johnson had four hits in the game which tied a single-game school record. She went 4-for-4 with four RBI and two runs scored to lead the Jags.

Five Jaguars would record multiple hits including Amanda Minahan who went 3-for-5, Stephanie Pilkington and Kaitlyn Griffith who boht went 2-for-4 and Taylor Rodgers who went 2-for-3.

Holly McKinnon earned her second career win in as many appearances despite allowing nine runs, all earned. She gave up eight hits while striking out three and walking two in 4 2/3 innings. Kaleigh Floore walked one batter in relief before Hannah Campbell came in to earn her second save of the season by striking out four with two walks in 2 1/3 innings of relief.

The evening game scheduled against Mercer was cancelled due to weather.
On Sunday, the Jags finished out the trip with 3-2 win over #17 Georgia to finish out the weekend sweep.

Amanda Minahan smashed a two-out line drive shot in the bottom of the seventh inning that Georgia’s Alex Hugo could not field. Then UGA’s Paige Wilson’s throw to first went into the dirt which allowed USA’s pinch runner Gwen Jones to score the winning run.

Blair Johnson continued her hot weekend with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning to give the Jags a 2-1 lead. Georgia tied the game in the top of the sixth ahead of Minahan’s game-winning RBI.

Georgia took their first loss of the season to fall to 11-1 despite outhitting the Jaguars 6-3 in the game. But their two errors proved costly. The Bulldogs left 10 runners on base as USA left six on base.

Hannah Campbell pitched six innings with five strikeouts and three walks. She allowed two runs, both earned, on six hits as she got a no-decision in the game. Farish Beard pitched one inning of relief and earned the win as she struck out two and walked two but did not allow any hits.

After the weekend’s game, the Jags are now 11-1 on the season. They have a mid-week game against Nicholls State in Thibodaux, Louisiana on Wednesday before a weekend trip to Gulfport, Mississippi for the Gulf Coast Softball Classic where they will play Ohio University, Nicholls State, UT-San Antoinio, Baylor and UT-Chattanooga.
Baseball

The Jaguar Baseball team split two games with the University of New Orleans over the weekend. On Friday night the Jags won 5-0 but on Saturday, the Jags fell 4-3 on Saturday on a late two-run homer. The series finale was cancelled on Sunday due to weather.

The Jags host Jacksonville State for a two game mid-week series on Tuesday and Wednesday before traveling to Fayetteville, Arkansas for a weekend series against the Razorbacks.

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