CARTHAGE -- The Panola College Fillies used a pair of quick bursts of points in the first and second halves and 49% shooting from the field Wednesday night to withstand runs by the Southern University at Shreveport and come away with a 90-77 season-opening victory here at Arthur Johnson Gymnasium.
Four different Fillies scored in double figures in the victory, while Panola finished the contest with a 42-37 edge in rebounds as they overcame 32 points in transition by the Lady Jaguars.
The Fillies (1-0) hit 33-of-67 (49%) from the field, with sophomore guard Ueronica Cleveland (Houston) leading the way with 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Sophomore forward Ariel Billington (Pea Ridge, Ark.) added 16 points, sophomore forward Shay Reed (Houston) dropped in 14 and sophomore guard Kelsey Bardsley (Manchester, England) threw in 11. Freshman J.J. Alli (Phoenix, AZ) pitched in eight points, as did freshman Danijela Svircic (Sibenik, Croatia).
In addition to her double-digit scoring, Reed also pulled down 12 boards, including five on the offensive end. Cleveland added eight boards and Alli posted six.
This contest was about the runs that the Fillies put on in each half to turn a close game into a track meet. Panola's first run came after SUSLA took a 10-9 lead. Over the next 5:31 of the half the Fillies outscored the Lady Jaguars 18-4 to blow out to a 27-14 advantage with 8:58 left in the first half.
Cleveland spurred the attack, hitting a three-pointer and scoring seven points in the run as she finished the first half with 12 points.
SUSLA didn't go away, however, hanging tough to stay within 47-35 at the break. Reed and Svircic each threw in seven points in the first 20 minutes and Billington added six for the Fillies.
The Lady Jaguars were able to take advantage of frequent trips to the free throw line, hitting 13-of-18 (72.2%) from the stripe as they went on to connect on 20-of-27 (74.1%) for the contest.
After Kelsey Bardsley (6 points) hit a 3-pointer to give the Fillies a 55-43 lead in the first six and one-half minutes of the third quarter, the Lady Jaguars began fighting back, outscoring Panola 14-2 over the next 3:15 to pull into a 57-57 tie.
A foul, followed by a technical called on a SUSLA player resulted in Svircic and Billington each hitting 1-of-2 free throws, but a three pointer by the Lady Jags put them in front for only the second time, 60-59, at the 8:31 mark of the final period.
That seemed to awaken the Fillies as Reed hit a driving bucket in the paint, Alli knocked down a 3-pointer and Cleveland went coast-to-coast to score a layup at the 7:34 mark to put Panola College back in front, 66-60.
Southern University kept attempting to penetrate the Panola defense, with a 3-point play pulling the squad to within 67-65 with 6:54 on the clock.
But that's as close as the Lady Jags would come. Leading 74-70 with 2:56 remaining, Panola outscored SUSLA 16-7 down the stretch to pull away. Bardsley was instrumental in the charge, scoring six points, including a 3-pointer with 2:10 on the clock that pushed the Fillies' lead back to 10 points, 80-70. Reed also helped ice the contest with a three-point play with 16.7 seconds remaining.
Panola will continue its season-opening homestand tonight (Friday) and Saturday, hosting Grayson College tonight at 7:30 p.m. and playing Cisco on Saturday at 4 p.m. Both contests will be in Johnson Gymnasium.
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