The Southwestern Assemblies of God Univerity women’s basketball team started strong, but let front-running Mid-America Christian University rally for a 65-52 win at the Sheaffer Center on Saturday afternoon.

The Lady Lions, with the best defense against shooters in the Sooner Athletic Conference, had another stellar effort.

They held the Lady Evangels to a 33 percent effort (23 of 69), but failed to capitalize on numerous chances to bury MACU when they had them down.

SAGU built an eight-point, second half lead, 34-26, with 14 minutes left in the game. The team was realizing its potential against a nationally ranked team.

But they didn’t finish.

The Lady Lions were awarded for their hard work with 30 free throw attempts. They sank just 17, which let MACU off the hook for fouls that prevented baskets.

The red-clad guests began to assert themselves on the boards, especially on the offensive glass. Their ability to wrestle the ball away following their missed shots led to 20 offensive rebounds, nine more than SAGU.

Second chance shots from inside the lane added up to a 69 to 47 advantage in field goal attempts. The Evangels rode a 46-37 edge on the boards to victory.

MACU is now 10-3 overall and 4-0 in the SAC. It is the best start in their history.

The Lady Lions dropped their second league game in as many tries and are 6-6 in all games.

Despite the loss, there was much to like about their performance.

Charity Page, a freshman forward, cashed in on a Nia Winston miss with a stickback that knotted the score at 42-42 with 8:13 to play.

On the ensuing Mid-America possession, she blocked a shot by the low block. The Evangels came up with the ball following a scrum in the paint.

It led to a patient series of passes that ended when Cheyenne Been spotted Ashlee Ferguson, open in the left corner. She drained it for the lead at the 7:45 mark.

SAGU followed with a missed shot, then split a pair of free throws. Ferguson then connected again from the same spot, thanks to a pass from Alliyah Spatafora. It was 48-43 with 6:44 left on the clock.

The teams traded misses, except April Williams rebounded their carom and scored on a putback.

Winston drove between two sandwiching defenders, who were credited with a blocked shot. Maclayn Massey tossed to Ferguson, who was alone on the wing.

When she gunned in a nothing-but-net triple the margin had reached 53-43, capping an 11-1 run in just three minutes.

SAGU drew to within four on foul shots by Winston and a layup on the right side by Hill to make it 53-47 with 3:49 left.

MACU nailed down the victory moments later when Spatafora assisted another three-ball by Ferguson. The visitors led 58-47, and, following a Winston trey, replied with a Lauren McKinney trifecta to ice it at 61-50.

The Lady Lions battled their way to a 27-24 halftime lead, with Page converting a defensive steal by going the distance, narrowly beating the buzzer.

Winston and Waxahachie’s Taylor Hill fueled the team in scoring and another freshman, Laken Ward, had a game-high 10 rebounds.

The SAC’s leading scorer, Winston, bagged a game-best 22 points. Her stat line included a pair of three-pointers, four rebounds, 10-of-15 free throws and two steals.

Hill added 13 points while Ward, six, and Page, five, were the only others to score more than two. Page was second in boards with seven.

MACU, who made 12 of 37 longball tries, enjoyed a 29-9 advantage in bench scoring. Ferguson, powered by five threes, was tops with 17 points.

The Lady Lions play at 6 p.m. Thursday at Texas Wesleyan University (5-6, 1-2).