Ladyjacks start off season win road win over Tulsa

Ladyjacks start off season win road win over Tulsa
Stephanie Visscher (Source: SFA Athletics)

From SFA Athletics

The opening quarter of the SFA women's basketball team's 2019-20 season was defined by defense. Quarter two featured its offense. The third, however, combined the best parts of the first two and allowed the Ladyjacks to open the season with a win for the first time four years.

Sophomore Stephanie Visscher put on a show, adding five steals and four assists to compliment a 19-point, 13-rebound double-double and the Ladyjacks held off a hard-charging Tulsa squad to claim a 67-63 victory Tuesday night at the Reynolds Center.

Leading by as many as 24 points in the third quarter, SFA had to withstand a wild fourth quarter comeback try by the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa outscored SFA 28-10 through the final 10 minutes of action, but SFA sank four free throws in the final minute to preserve its win.

FIRST QUARTER• Defense defined the opening quarter of play as the squads combined for a total of 14 points through the 2019-20 season's first 10 minutes. • Breaking a 6-6 deadlock, Visscher took a slick pass from Aaliyah Johnson and cashed in on an uncontested layup with 1:19 remaining in the quarter to put the visitors ahead 8-6. • Though the Ladyjacks shot just 3-for-20 (15-percent) in the opening quarter, their defense made sure the Golden Hurricane didn't fare much better. SFA forced their Oklahoma rivals into four turnovers and a 3-for-15 (20-percent) mark from the field.

SECOND QUARTER• Visscher's layup in the waning moments of the opening quarter represented the starting point of a 7-0 run by the visitors that helped put some distance between them and Tulsa. Finishing that surge was Nugent who canned her first collegiate three-pointer before dropping in a mid-range jumper that hiked SFA's lead to 13-6. • Nugent's string of five points was a part of the Ladyjacks' freshman-centric run to begin the second frame. Noelle Yancy followed up her classmate's 5-0 run with SFA's next five points before Nugent sank a second triple which pushed SFA's edge to 21-12 wit 5:16 to go in the half.• Aiyana Johnson's banker with 3:27 left in the quarter extended SFA's lead to double-digits for the first time, but Tulsa closed out the quarter in strong fashion to make sure the Ladyjacks didn't pull too far away. Desiree Lewis banked home a pair of layups and Rebecca Lescay sank Tulsa's first three-pointer of the game with two second left to pull her squad within six, 27-21, at the break. • Both offenses shook off their first-quarter rust, too, by posting identical shooting percentages of 43.8 (7-for-16) in the second.

THIRD QUARTER• There wasn't much the Ladyjacks did wrong in the third quarter as they used a 16-3 run through the first 3:54 of the frame to open up a 43-24 lead. • Marissa Banfield and Visscher accounted for all but three points during SFA's sizable surge to start the quarter. During the third quarter, Visscher went 5-for-5 from the field while dishing out a pair of assists. • The Ladyjacks' lead ballooned to as many as 24 points, 57-33, when Visscher drilled a pair of free throw tries with 45 seconds to go in the frame. • SFA unloaded on the Golden Hurricane though that 10-minute span, putting up a shooting split of .688/.600/1.000 in the third.

FOURTH QUARTER• Even though the Golden Hurricane managed to cut the Ladyjacks' lead to 61-47 with a jumper courtesy of Lescay with 5;15 left, Alyssa Mayfield answered with a layup to extend the visitors' lead to 63-47 with the clock showing 4:03. • Following Mayfield's make, the Golden Hurricane kicked things into another gear to try and come all the way back. Morgan Brady connected on back-to-back long balls to cap a 10-0 run by the home team which sliced SFA's lead down to 63-57 with 1:06 to go. • Visscher went on to split a pair at the foul line, but still Tulsa wouldn't back down. The Golden Hurricane made it a three-point game when Addison Richards sank a jumper with 22 seconds left.• Fortunately, Banfield went 1-for-2 at the free throw line with seven seconds remaining and Tulsa was unable to draw closer.

KEY PERFORMERS/STATISTICS OF NOTE• Outside of Visscher, Banfield was the only other Ladyjack to finish with double-digit points. The junior finished with 12 on 3-of-6 shooting from three-point land and finished with a pair of assists. • Harris generated a team-high five of the Ladyjacks' 16 assists while Nugent and Yancy chipped in eight and five points respectively off the bench. Aiyana Johnson narrowly missed out on a double-double, posting eight points and nine rebounds in the victory. • Richards (15) was one of three Tulsa players in double-digits. Both Brady (13) and Kendrian Elliott (13) got there, too, while the latter completed a double-double with 12 rebounds. • Tulsa got it done off of 19 SFA turnovers. The Golden Hurricane received 38.1-percent of its point total due to Ladyjack throwaways.

KELLOGG’S COMMENTSOn the game overall | “I thought we had a great third quarter. The first half was really what I thought it would be like with two teams trying to get going to start the season. We really settled in great in the third quarter and then in the fourth we had so many empty possessions and turnovers that Tulsa was able to get back in it. Our rotations were slow, and I think we got a little tired, but we made enough plays late to get the job done. You try to practice pressure-situation free throws in practice but it will never truly feel like an in-game situation, so hopefully we learned from that experience tonight by making some in crunch time.” On Zya Nugent and Noelle Yancy playing big minutes as freshmen | "Zya and Noelle were willing and able to do what we needed them to do tonight. At times they were more settled than our returners, which was important because that helped us to settle down as a team. Zya was good offensively in stretches and Noelle was as well, so it was good to see them be able to perform well in a game atmosphere.On the play of Stephanie Visscher | “That was a bid double-double for her tonight. Her mindset is different than a lot of other players out there and I’m proud of her for the effort she put forth tonight. She was really, really good. She continuously hit big shots for us and our sophomore class as a whole is going to be really good.”On how Visscher’s international play in the summer helped in-game tonight | “The summer after you see legitimate minutes in college becomes your most important summer. I expect that year to be really, really crucial in allowing players to recognize what skills they have and then to enhance those skills headed into year two. Coming back from this past summer, I think Stephanie is primed to have a really, really good year.”On Alcorn State Saturday morning | “They just got beat by Memphis, but it was a close game throughout. The last time we played them, we had to hit a shot to beat them in overtime. We know what kind of team they are, we know what their identity is. The goal for us now is to rest up tonight, come back in and get back to work for an early tip-off Saturday.”

COMING UP NEXT• With their first win of the season in the books, the Ladyjacks head back to Nacogdoches to start the home portion of their schedule. Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m., SFA takes on SWAC combatant Alcorn State inside William R. Johnson Coliseum. That tilt will be broadcast nationwide on ESPN3 and the ESPN app.