WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Cotton's career day leads LeTourneau to 69-56 win over Southwestern
By Trey McLaughlin
LETU Sports Information Assistant
LONGVIEW – The YellowJackets of LeTourneau started off the New Year in impressive form, defeating the Southwestern University Pirates 69-56 at Solheim Arena.
Sharday Cotton (Mansfield, La./LSU-Shreveport) put in a stellar performance Monday, grabbing a school-record 24 rebounds and adding 21 points for her second double-double of the season and the first 20-20 game of her collegiate career, which included two seasons at NAIA LSU-Shreveport.
The 24 rebounds tied her previous best for caroms in a game, as Cotton also grabbed 24 boards for LSU-Shreveport against Jarvis Christian on Jan. 15, 2011.
LeTourneau improved to 5-5 with the victory, and improved to 3-0 against schools from the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. Southwestern dropped to 6-7 with the loss.
The Jackets elevated their play down the stretch, closing out the Pirates with a 15-2 run over the last 4:38. The run was fueled mainly by Jessica Manas (Fort Worth, Texas/Haltom) – who scored all of her six points in this run – and La'Queda Davis (Houston, Texas/Haltom), who added four points.
The game saw its 12th and final tie with 4:48 to play when Valerie Logan knocked down a jumper to pull the Pirates into a 54-54 tie. The Jackets responded by scoring seven unanswered points over the next 1:46, getting baskets from Davis, Cotton and DeShante Thomas (Tyler, Texas/Whitehouse).
Manas converted all four of her free throw attempts in the final minute to seal the game.
A 3-pointer by Cara Sheffer gave the Pirates a 24-13 lead with 7:30 to play before halftime. The Jackets proved tough as they fought back with a 15-2 run to close out the first half, taking a two-point lead into the break, 28-26.
The Jackets held off the Pirates for most of the second half, answering each of the Pirates' baskets with a basket of their own. Davis played a key role in the Jackets' second half performance as she scored eight of her 12 points after the midgame break.
The Jackets saw their final shooting numbers at an even 40 percent (30 of 75) from the floor, but they shot an impressive 45 percent (18 of 40) from the field in the second half.
The defense was strong for LeTourneau all game long, forcing 20 turnovers for the game and limiting the Pirates to just 33 percent shooting (25 of 76) for the game. Jamilah Tyson led the defensive effort with three steals, and DeShante Thomas added three blocks.
The victory proved to be a team effort with each LeTourneau player playing at least 10 minutes and scoring at least two points. Jahmilah Tyson (Houston, Texas/Langham Creek) scored nine points on 4-of-5 shooting for the YellowJackets.
Jordan Owens scored 20 points and added seven rebounds to lead the Pirates. Valerie Logan added seven assists and seven steals in addition to scoring seven points.
The YellowJackets return to American Southwest Conference play Thursday as they take on the Bulldogs of Texas Lutheran at 5:30 p.m. at Solheim Arena.