GM 9 // UALR (4-4) at Louisiana Tech (3-7)
December 20, 2013 • 6:30 p.m. (CST)
Ruston, La. • Thomas Assembly Center (8,000)
Radio Talent: Phil Elson (PxP)
Live Stats: www.LaTechSports.com
LITTLE ROCK – After nearly pulling an upset at home against one of the country’s best teams, the UALR women’s basketball team leaves Little Rock for a Friday-night game at Louisiana Tech. Trojans fans can follow along with live video and stats at LATechSports.com or listen to the game on local radio on 920 AM.
· UALR had a strong showing against LSU on Sunday, leading by as many as 10 points against the nation’s No. 13 team and holding a six-point lead at halftime.
· Kiera Clark scored an impressive 17 points and made her first six baskets, but the Tigers eventually came from behind to win by seven. Taylor Ford (13) and Taylor Gault (12) also had double figures for the Trojans.
· UALR’s trip to Louisiana Tech will be its final non-conference road game of the season. The Trojans have only one non-conference game remaining after this: a Dec. 29 home date with South Dakota State.
· UALR used only six players for the majority of the game against LSU. Hannah Fohne pulled down five rebounds and moved up to 10th all-time in UALR history in that category.
· The Trojans and the Lady Techsters have met 10 times in history, with LA Tech holding a 7-3 advantage.
ABOUT THE TROJANS
UALR faced a difficult challenge when No. 13 LSU came to Little Rock on Sunday, but the Trojans battled the Tigers incredibly well in the first half and only wound up losing by seven points. UALR led 30-24 at halftime and eventually held the Tigers to only 58 points, well below their average of 73.4 points per game. Kiera Clark hit her first six shots, including all five in the first half, and finished with 17 points and eight rebounds. Taylor Ford scored 13 and had eight assists, and Taylor Gault also scored 12 points in her first start in a month. Gault leads the team with 13 points per game, while Shanity James tops the Trojans with 5.4 rebounds per game.
The Trojans are riding a huge wave of success over the last decade, making the postseason for the last six seasons including three NCAA Tournament berths and three WNIT trips. The Trojans are favored by the league’s coaches to win the conference this season, and Taylor Ford and Taylor Gault made the All-Sun Belt First Team in the preseason.
ABOUT LOUISIANA TECH
· The Lady Techsters, based in Ruston, La., hold a 3-7 record on the season but have won two of their last three games heading into the weekend. They are most recently coming off a 63-51 loss at McNeese State on Tuesday. Last year they advanced to the WAC Tournament semifinal before ending their season.
· LA Tech has a common opponent with UALR so far this year, as they lost to LSU by 12 in late November. The Lady Techsters have also played Sun Belt school Arkansas State earlier in the year, losing 91-68.
· LA Tech is averaging 65.5 points per game so far this year and shooting 37.6 percent from the field. They are being out-rebounded by two rebounds per game, and they are being outscored by 2.5 points per game.
· Individually, Whitney Frazier is the team’s top scorer with 15.5 points per game. Chrisstasia Walter and JaQuan Jackson are also talented scorers, averaging 13.6 and 13.4 points per game, respectively.
· Frazier is also the Lady Techsters’ top rebounder, pulling down 8.5 boards per contest. Walter is the team’s point guard and top assist getter, dishing out 5.4 assists in each contest.
· Head coach Teresa Weatherspoon is in her sixth year with Louisiana Tech and holds an 90-58 record with the team. She won an NCAA championship as a player at LA Tech in 1988 the same year she won an Olympic gold medal for Team USA. Weatherspoon also played in the WNBA for eight years.
THE SERIES AGAINST LOUISIANA TECH
The Trojans’ rivalry with the Lady Techsters dates back to January 2000 when Louisiana Tech was still in the same conference with UALR. Louisiana Tech won the first five meetings between the teams, but the Trojans have claimed three of the last five to give the Lady Techsters a 7-3 all-time edge in the series. Last year, the Trojans defeated LA Tech by 22 in Little Rock. Taylor Ford, Taylor Gault, Kiera Clark and Ka’Nesheia Cobbins all scored in double figures in that game.
A WIN AGAINST LOUISIANA TECH WOULD…
…be the Trojans’ first ever victory at Louisiana Tech…put the Trojans back above .500…be the team’s first win against a Conference USA team this season…close out the road non-conference schedule with a victory.
UALR VS. CONFERENCE USA
Conference USA is home to four teams who left the Sun Belt after last season, so the Trojans have a strong familiarity with the conference. Overall, UALR has played 125 contests against current Conference USA members, holding a 64-61 record in those games. Notably, UALR is 9-0 against FAU, 12-11 against North Texas, 6-1 against Rice, 8-1 against Tulsa and 9-16 against FIU. The Trojans have never played East Carolina, Charlotte, Old Dominion or UAB. The Trojans have lost one game to a CUSA opponent this year, falling at Southern Miss in November. The Trojans were scheduled to play Tulsa as well, but weather postponed that contest.
CLARK WITH A SPARK
Kiera Clark had one of the best games of her career at UALR against No. 13 LSU, scoring a team-high 17 points while bringing down five rebounds. She started the game making all of her first six shots and ended with a 7-of-10 shooting day. Clark also sank two more 3-pointers, bringing her total on the season to six. She began the year with just one made 3-pointer in her career. Clark was UALR’s leading scorer by four points against LSU and was three points away from topping both teams and tying her career high with 20 points.
The Trojans’ tight game against LSU was impressive for many reasons, but one of the biggest was the small number of players the team used. In the first half, only one substitution was made: Starter Kaitlyn Pratt came out for Hannah Fohne after four minutes, and Fohne played the rest of the half. At the end of the game, five players (Fohne, Ford, Clark, Gault, James) averaged 36.6 minutes each, and Clark played all 40 minutes. Sharde’ Collins, Di’Mond Jackson and Pratt played two, five and 10 minutes, respectively. Conversely, 10 players saw the court for LSU with all of them playing at least 14 minutes and at most 32 minutes.
The LSU game may have been lost by UALR at the free throw line. The Trojans committed 25 fouls over the game’s 40 minutes, sending the Tigers to the line 37 times. LSU hit 26 of those shots and scored 18 of their 34 second-half points at the line. UALR only shot 12 free throws in the entire game.
Senior Taylor Ford has dished out 40 assists in the season’s first eight games, good for five assists per game. That average puts her on top of the Sun Belt Conference so far. Ford dished out 149 assists in 2012-13, two shy of the school record set by Shanika Butler in 2009-10, and she is currently fourth all-time at UALR with 340 assists and eighth all-time with 3.2 per game. She will move up to third all-time at UALR with 17 more assists. Her assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.7 is also good for third in the conference.
DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Trojans pride themselves on defense, and so far this year their defense is tops in the Sun Belt. UALR is allowing opponents to score just 59.4 points per game, lower than second-place Louisiana by nearly four full points and more than 11 points below the league average. No team has scored more than 72 points on UALR this season. Opponents are shooting just 37.9 percent from the field against the Trojans – also tops in the league – and only 26.4 percent from behind the arc. That defense was certainly on display against LSU, holding the Tigers to 58 points and 31.9 percent shooting from the field.
After six games with several close calls, the Trojans had two players record double-doubles against Incarnate Word. Freshman Kaitlyn Pratt was the first, and she finished the evening with a career-high 16 points and 15 rebounds. Sophomore Shanity James reached that distinction shortly after Pratt, ending the night with 13 points and 11 rebounds for her fourth career double-double. The Trojans had not had two players get double-doubles in the same game since Marian Kursh (21 pts, 12 rebs) and Britteni Williams achieved that feat against Arkansas State in February 2012.
MORE DOUBLE TROUBLE
Sophomore Shanity James is on a scoring roll right now, as she has recorded double figures in scoring in 12 of her last 14 games. She had six consecutive games with 10 or more points at the end of last season, and she scored 12, 13, 10, 18 and 12 points in this season’s first five games. Her high total during this streak is 19 at Pacific in the WNIT in March. Junior Taylor Gault has a similar streak, recording double digits in 13 of her last 15 games. The lone games missing from that run are the regular-season finale last year against Arkansas State where she only played five minutes and the contest against Texas on Dec. 4.
ANYTHING BUT MARGINAL
The Trojans’ 82-34 victory over Incarnate Word came by a 48-point total that was the second-biggest total in the Joe Foley era. The Trojans had not beaten an opponent by more than 30 points since defeating South Alabama by 31 (65-340 on Feb. 2, 2013. The largest margin of victory for the Trojans under Foley came on Jan. 16, 2010 with an 88-38 victory over Louisiana.
Four freshman on the roster set a career high in at least one category against Incarnate Word. Di’Mond Jackson had new career highs with eight points, six rebounds and eight assists. Keys had a career-best nine points and shot 4 of 4 from the field. Besides points and rebounds, Kaitlyn Pratt also set new career bests with six made field goals 27 minutes. Antoina Robinson had her first career points in the second half, finishing with four, and also had two rebounds. Combined the freshmen played 93 of UALR’s 200 minutes.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
Since the Jack Stephens Center opened for the start of the 2005-06 season, the Trojans are an incredible 103-21 in their home building, good for a winning percentage of .830. UALR is also 58-11 in conference games at the JSC, making them an even-better .841 in league games. The Trojans’ overall winning percentage at the Jack Stephens Center puts that building just outside the top 10 toughest places to play in the country. Maryland has a .839 winning percentage at its Comcast Center. UALR had not lost a home game in its last nine tries before LSU came to town on Sunday.
LOGGING BIG MINUTES
Senior Taylor Ford and junior Kiera Clark are critical to the Trojans’ success this year, and they have been on the court plenty to prove it. Clark is third in the Sun Belt with 34.6 minutes played per game – after playing all 40 minutes against LSU -- while Ford is sixth at 32.8.
GAULT MOVING UP THE RANKINGS
Taylor Gault continues her assault on the Trojan record book during her junior season as she moved up to seventh all-time in points scored against Incarnate Word. She is now only 12 points away from moving up one more spot in that category. Her 14.8 points per game in her career is the second-highest total in school history, and her 424 made field goals puts her three behind Marian Kursh for eighth at UALR all-time. Also, with nine more made 3-pointers, Gault will move into seventh all-time at UALR in that category. She is the only Trojan to have scored 100 points this season so far.
Nov. 30 at Oral Roberts was a special day for head coach Joe Foley, as he earned his 200th victory as the coach at UALR. Foley, now in his 11th year, has averaged just under 20 wins per season in Little Rock. On his career, Foley now has 656 victories that include his time as a head coach at Arkansas Tech. The Trojans have won 20 games every year since the 2006-07 season. Foley is by far the winningest coach in program history, and his closest competition – Babs Blagg (1982-86) – only has 33 wins.
ON THE OFFENSIVE (BOARDS)
Freshman Kaitlyn Pratt is quickly proving herself to be a valuable player for the Trojans in the post. She had a career-best 15 rebounds against Incarnate Word, and an impressive eight of those came on the offensive glass. Pratt is averaging 5.0 rebounds per game this season, and 3.2 of those are coming on the offensive end. That total puts her third in the Sun Belt, and she is the only freshman in the top 15 in the league.
CAREER NUMBERS WATCH
· Hannah Fohne passed Shanika Butler for 10th all-time at UALR in total rebounds (440).
· Taylor Ford brought down her 400th rebound.
· Taylor Ford will move into third all-time at UALR with 17 more assists.
· Taylor Gault is now just 23 points away from moving up to sixth all-time at UALR, three made field goals from eighth all-time in school history and 10 points away from 1,100 in her career.
· Hannah Fohne will move into sole possession of the team’s all-time block total with 11 more.
· Kiera Clark needs 17 more points to reach 500 in her career.
After playing the Lady Techsters, the Trojans get eight full days off during the week of Christmas. UALR returns to action at home on Sunday, Dec. 29 when South Dakota State comes to the Jack Stephens Center. The game is set to begin at 2 p.m.