GM 10 // UALR (4-5) vs. South Dakota State (9-5)
December 29, 2013 • 2 p.m. (CST)
Little Rock, Ark. • Jack Stephens Center (5,600)
Radio Talent: Phil Elson (PxP) and Ron Jumper (Color)
Live Stats: www.UALRTrojans.com
LITTLE ROCK – The UALR women’s basketball team struggled for the third consecutive game on the road, so it will look to get back to its winning ways at home against South Dakota State. Trojans fans can follow along with live video and stats at UALRTrojans.com or listen to the game on local radio on 920 AM.
· After scoring nine and 10 points in their last two first-half road games, the Trojans women’s basketball team managed only 12 at Louisiana Tech on Dec. 20.
· UALR eventually recovered in the second half, outscoring the Lady Techsters but still losing by a 50-39 score.
· The Trojans committed 19 turnovers in that contest but 15 of them came in the first half. The team also shot just 5 of 28 from the field in that half and was trailing by 14 points at the break.
· UALR has been much better at home than on the road this season, posting a 3-1 record in the Jack Stephens Center but going 1-4 outside Arkansas.
· Sunday’s game against the Jackrabbits will be the last non-conference game of the year for the Trojans. Eighteen consecutive games against Sun Belt opposition will follow starting in January with league newcomers Texas State and UT Arlington.
· The Trojans and Jackrabbits have met twice in their history with SDSU claiming both games in December 2011.
ABOUT THE TROJANS
The UALR women’s basketball team may have played their best of game of the season against No. 13 LSU on Dec. 15, but the team struggled on the road against Louisiana Tech on Dec. 20. In that game, the Trojans shot just 5 of 28 from the field and scored 12 points in the first half while turning the ball over 15 times. UALR outscored LA Tech in the second half and eventually cut the deficit as low as six, but it was too late. Taylor Gault eventually led the team with 10 points, while freshman Kaitlyn Pratt had a team-high 12 rebounds. The Trojans have lost three of their last four games.
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 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
· The Jackrabbits, based in Brookings, S.D., have a 9-5 record on the season so far and are ranked No. 17 in the Mid-Major Top 25 poll. They made the NCAA Tournament last season as a 13 seed, losing to No. 4 seed South Carolina in the first round. South Dakota State has made the NCAA Tournament for the last five years.
· The Jackrabbits are averaging 68.9 points per game, outscoring their opposition by 3.6 points per game. Before losing to Middle Tennessee State on Dec. 21, the Jackrabbits had won five consecutive games including an 83-79 victory over No.12 Penn State.
· SDSU is outrebounding the opposition by more than three rebounds a game, averaging 41.1 per game as a team. SDSU is undefeated at home at 7-0 but only 1-3 in road games.
· Individually, Megan Waytashek is leading the team with 12.6 points per game. She is shooting 92 percent from the free throw line and 43 percent from the field. Mariah Clarin is the team’s top rebounding, bringing down 6.6 boards per game. While no other Jackrabbit is scoring more than 10 points per game, seven different players are over five points per game.
· UALR and SDSU have not shared any common opponents this season.
· Head coach Aaron Johnston has been with the program for 14 years, posting a record of 324-113. He helped transition the program from Division II to Division I in 2004. The Jackrabbits won the Division II national championship in 2003.
THE SERIES AGAINST SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
UALR and SDSU have only met twice in their history, and both of those meetings came in December 2011. As part of a home-and-home 10-day span, the Trojans and Jackrabbits met on Dec. 6 and Dec. 16 of that year in both teams’ home venues. South Dakota State came away with the victory in both of those games, the first by a 60-49 advantage in Little Rock and the second by a 64-55 margin in Brookings, S.D. Sunday’s game will be the teams’ third ever meeting.
A WIN AGAINST SOUTH DAKOTA STATE WOULD…
…be the Trojans’ first ever victory against the Jackrabbits…put the Trojans back at .500 on the season…be the team’s first win against current Summit League team since New Year’s Eve 2011…close out the non-conference schedule with a victory.
UALR VS. THE SUMMIT LEAGUE
The Trojans have a 14-12 record all-time against current members of The Summit League, though 22 of those 26 games came against former Sun Belt member Denver. UALR is 13-9 all-time against Denver, has a 1-1 record against Fort Wayne and is 0-2 against the Jackrabbits. The Trojans have never faced IUPUI, North Dakota State, Nebraska-Omaha, South Dakota or Western Illinois.
The Trojans seem to be a different team playing in front of a home crowd. At the Jack Stephens Center this year, UALR has a 3-1 record and is outscoring opponents by an average of 12.5 points per game. On the road, though, UALR is 1-4 and being outscored by 11.8 points per game. Historically, UALR performs very well at home and boast an incredible 103-21 in their home building since it opened in 2005-06. UALR is also 58-11 in conference games at the JSC, making them an even-better .841 in league games. UALR had not lost a home game in its last nine tries before No. 13 LSU came to town on Dec. 15.
POOR FIRST HALVES
When leading at the end of the first half this year, UALR is 3-1. But when trailing at halftime, UALR has a 1-4 record with the lone win coming at Oral Roberts. The team’s poor first halves may be to blame for that 1-4 record, as they scored just 10 point at Texas, 12 points at Louisiana Tech and 9 in that win at Oral Roberts. In four of the five losses this year, UALR had higher scores in the second half than the first.
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 on Dec. 10, and an impressive eight of those came on the offensive glass. Pratt is averaging a team-best 5.8 rebounds per game this season, and 3.4 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. She also reached double figures in rebounds at Louisiana Tech, bringing down 12 boards.
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.
Senior Taylor Ford has dished out 43 assists in the season’s first nine games, good for 4.8 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 14 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 58.3 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 25.8 percent from behind the arc, good for second in the Sun Belt.
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.
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.
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 34.0 minutes played per game – after playing all 40 minutes against LSU -- while Ford is seventh at 32.9.
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.
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 she surpassed Marian Kursh for eighth all-time at UALR with her 425th made field goal against Louisiana Tech. Also, with eighth 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.
CAREER NUMBERS WATCH
Against Louisiana Tech:
· Taylor Gault moved up to eighth all-time in school history in made field goals and scored her 1,100th career point.
· Taylor Ford will move into third all-time at UALR with 14 more assists.
· Taylor Gault is now just 13 points away from moving up to sixth all-time at UALR and six made field goals from seventh all-time in school history.
· Hannah Fohne will move into sole possession of the team’s all-time block total with 11 more.
· Kiera Clark needs 11 more points to reach 500 in her career.
· Nia Gregory’s next appearance will be her 25th career game.
The Trojans are all done for 2013, but the new year will bring new challenges as UALR heads to the Lone Star State to battle new Sun Belt Conference foes in Texas State and UT Arlington. Those games will take place on Jan. 2 and Jan. 4, respectively.