Stephen F. Austin sophomore post player Aiyana Johnson took over in the final four minutes of the first half Saturday afternoon here in William R. Johnson Coliseum, scoring the final 10 points of the second quarter and helping the Ladyjacks to a 32-27 lead. Her double-double was enough to propel SFA (2-0) to its second consecutive win to start the season, a 67-62 win over Alcorn State (0-2).
Johnson posted her double-double before intermission, as she scored 17 points and ripped down 17 boards for the game, while adding four blocked shots and two assists in the five-point win.
“I’m giving credit to my teammates,” Johnson said after the game. “We work all the time in practice and they expect me, in my role, to do that [produce] and I’m glad I was able to do that for my teammates and coaches.”
Johnson hit 7-of-13 from the field, but the Ladyjacks didn’t shoot exceptionally well as a team, converting only 36.6% (26-of-71) from the field and 25% (7-of-28) from behind the three-point arc. But SFA did outrebound the smaller Lady Braves, holding a 46-37 advantage, including 21-12 on the offensive end.
“We should have (outrebounded them), just because of our size advantage,” said SFA head coach Mark Kellogg. “We have never been a great offensive rebounding team because I want us to make shots and not have to rely on that,. But I was proud of the effort on a night when we didn’t make our shots. We were defined on our second shot opportunities.”
Ladyjack junior guard Marissa Banfield led all scorers with 18 points, connecting on 6-of-14 from the field, including 5-of-12 behind the three-point line. She also dished out five assists.
“I’m proud of our group,” Kellogg added. “We didn’t shoot the ball great, but we finally found a way to win when we didn’t make perimeter shots. Aiyana had a great game and Marissa was the one kid that made some shots, so we tried to get her some looks.
“We’ll get better. It wasn’t perfect, but we’ll get better and it’s still early in the year.”
SFA freshman Zya Nugent added nine point, while sophomore Stephanie Visscher and senior Riley Harvey pulled in six rebounds each.
Three Alcorn State players scored in double figures, with Jada Hargrove leading the way with 16 points, while LaRae Rascoe chipped in 14 and Diamond Hall added 11. As a team, the Lady Braves hit 41% (25-of-61) from the field.
One area for minor concern for Kellogg was the fact that, for the second straight game, the Ladyjacks let a large second-half lead slip away. SFA led Tulsa by 24 points on Tuesday before claiming a 67-63 win. The Ladyjacks pulled out to a 59-44 advantage over Alcorn State with 5:32 remaining before seeing it dwindle to four in the final minute.
Kellogg said he doesn’t see it as a major problem early in the season because he is putting a large number of young players on the floor in the third and fourth quarters. “Now if we’re doing this late in the year, I’ll be really concerned. But it’s too early to be overly concerned with it.”
SFA returns to action on Saturday when they host Central Florida at 3 p.m.