Jaguars, Lady Tigers to clash for SWAC women's title
HOUSTON – The Bayou Classic comes to the hardwood when the Southern Jaguars clash with the Grambling State Lady Tigers in the final of the 2018 Toyota Southwestern Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament.
The game is set to tip off at 12:30 P.M. and can be seen on ESPN3.
Both sides split the regular-season series, as Southern (17-12) defeated Grambling State 63-44 on Jan. 6. During that game, Briana Green recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Shakyla Hill led Grambling with 18 points, 12 rebounds and seven steals, but the Lady Tigers shot just 29.6 percent from the field and were harassed into 28 turnovers.
The Lady Tigers (18-13) returned the favor with a 79-71 win over the Jaguars on Feb. 3, as Monisha Neal led the way with 18 points.
Southern enters as the No. 1 seed in the field after winning the regular-season championship outright with a 14-4 conference record. Led by SWAC Defensive Player of the Year in Green, the Jaguars are making their third appearance in the title game over the past four seasons.
For Grambling, this is its second-straight title game appearance in as many seasons. The Lady Tigers are seeking to end a 19-year drought, as they last won the SWAC tournament in 1999. Leading the way will be All-SWAC first-teamers Hill and Neal.
Green scored 31 points to go with eight rebounds and five assists in guiding the Jaguars to an 84-76 win over Prairie View in the semifinals. Since the Feb. 3 loss to Grambling, Southern has won eight of its last 10 games, as has Grambling. Green has been particularly impressive as of late, as she has averaged a shade over 28 points and seven rebounds over her last three games.
Meanwhile, Hill flirted with a quadruple double, scoring 15 points, grabbing 14 rebounds, dishing nine assists and making eight steals as Grambling defeated defending champion Texas Southern 66-59 to punch its ticket to the final. Hill has been all-around dominant over her last 10 games, averaging 22.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game to go with 6.3 assists and 4.4 steals a game. She’s accounted for six double-doubles during that span.
For Grambling, Jazmin Boyd stands as a X-factor that could turn the tide in the Lady Tigers’ favor. Boyd led the team in scoring with 19 points during the team’s win over TSU and has averaged 17.4 points per game over her last five outings.
Southern will look to again force Grambling into sloppy play. Boasting the best turnover margin in the league (+6.03), if the Jaguars can replicate a defensive performance similar to the teams’ Jan. 6 meeting, Southern may claim its first championship since 2010.
Last season, Grambling came up trumps during the tournament match-up, winning 65-56 on the strength of a big fourth quarter. Hill scored 17 points with five boards, five assists and four steals. Green was limited to 10 points.