Pine Bluff’s Ajia Richardson paced the Fillies again with 19 points Monday in a 54-41 win over Lonoke in the opening game of the Southeast Arkansas Invitational at Pine Bluff’s McFadden Gymnasium. The junior guard scored 11 of her points at halftime, helping the Fillies (2-0) take a 32-24 lead.
She also had some scoring help from Victoria Broady, who added 13 points.
"Her and Ajia are a really good backcourt, and they’re going to have to carry us," Pine Bluff coach Loy Moore said. "We’ve got a lot of depth with the forwards, but they’re inexperienced. They’re 10th-graders. They just have to play."
The Fillies played well on the defensive end, scoring 11 points off turnovers and at times keeping Lonoke (1-1) out of its halfcourt game.
"We’ve got some young kids who got tired after the first quarter," Lonoke coach Nathan Morris said. "The passes we made that were more sound early, we decided we could make tougher passes, and those passes turned into turnovers and those turnovers turned into layups."
The Jackrabbits led the Fillies 12-10 before Richardson canned a jumpshot that started a 9-0 Pine Bluff run. Lonoke scored off three straight turnovers to whittle a 25-18 deficit down to 25-24, but a three-point basket by Richardson snapped the run and Pine Bluff turned up its defense to create more scoring opportunities.
"We’re picking up full-court, hoping it will give us some runs," Moore said. "You know, it’s never consistently going to give you points, but it’s going to come in runs, and it did last Wednesday night against Mount St. Mary and it did tonight.
"It was the difference last Wednesday and it was the difference tonight. Steals and layups were the difference in the game."
Lonoke was held to two field goals in the third quarter and trailed 43-30 going into the fourth. The Rabbits were no closer to the lead from that point.
Kerasha Johnson, an all-conference player as a freshman last season, led the Lady Jackrabbits with 18 points. Callie Whitfield added 8. Savannah Holman scored six. Amanda Sexton had four. Eboni Willis had three and Haiden Jeter scored two.
"She’s got to understand we want it in her hands all the time instead of one play not and one play, yeah," Morris said of Johnson. "And got to get a little more consistent on defense, but that’s all of us."