GM 17 // UALR (8-8, 3-3 SBC) vs. Texas State (6-10, 3-2)
January 22, 2014 • 7 p.m. (CST)
Little Rock, Ark. • Jack Stephens Center
Radio: KARN 920 | Radio Talent: Phil Elson (PxP) and Ron Jumper (Color)
Live Stats: www.UALRTrojans.com
LITTLE ROCK – Home court has never looked sweeter for the UALR women’s basketball team after it dropped two straight road games last week at Western Kentucky and Georgia State. The Trojans return to the Jack Stephens Center for some home cooking as they take on Texas State on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the first rematch of the season. Trojans fans can follow along with live video and stats at UALRTrojans.com or listen to the game on local radio on 920 AM.
· UALR was unable to hold on to a lead in its most recent contest, falling to Georgia State by two despite leading by 11 in the second half.
· Taylor Gault and Kiera Clark had tremendous scoring days, tallying 21 and 18 points, respectively. Clark also had 10 rebounds, recording the Trojans’ third double-double of the season.
· Clark has brought down at least 10 rebounds in three consecutive games, becoming the first Trojan to achieve that feat since Chastity Reed in 2009.
· UALR kept Georgia State off the free throw line for the entirety of the first half, the first time all season the Trojans managed that.
· The Trojans will be matching up with Texas State for the second time this season. In their first meeting, the Bobcats came away with a 45-32 victory in San Marcos, Texas.
· A UALR victory against Texas State would even the lifetime series at 3-3.
ABOUT THE TROJANS
In only the second game of UALR’s season decided by two points, the Trojans fell just short of defeating Sun Belt newcomer Georgia State in the teams’ first ever meeting. UALR held leads of 14 points in the first half and 11 points in the second half but was unable to hold on both times. A Panthers layup with 2.8 seconds left sealed UALR’s fate in a loss despite getting 21 points from Taylor Gault and 18 points and 10 rebounds from Kiera Clark. UALR is getting a team-high 13.8 points per game from Gault and 10.3 from Clark as well as a team-high 6.6 rebounds per game from Clark. The Trojans defensively rank in the top 50 nationally in scoring defense (55.6 points allowed per game) and 3-point field goal defense (28.1 percent allowed) while leading the Sun Belt in both categories by healthy margins.
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 TEXAS STATE
· The Bobcats, based in San Marcos, Texas, are 6-10 so far this season and have won four of their last six games. They hold a 3-2 record in Sun Belt play, boasting a win over UALR in the teams’ first meeting this season on Jan. 2. Prior to conference play, the team had not left Texas all season, instead traveling only to in-state opponents.
· Most recently, Texas State is coming off an eight-point win against conference- and in-state rival UT Arlington. Before that, the Bobcats split a road trip to Louisiana, defeating Louisiana by 12 but losing at ULM by 26.
· The Bobcats as a team are averaging 62.5 points per game and allowing 62.5. They are also being out-rebounded by an average of 5.7 per game and being outshot by 3.5 percent from the field. In conference play, they are scoring at a lower clip, putting up 59.6 points per game and allowing a smaller 62.6 as well.
· Individually, Texas State is being led on offense by Ashley Ezeh’s 13.7 points per game. Erin Peoples is not far behind with 9.0 points per game. The Bobcats are also led in rebounding by peoples and her 5.8 rebounds per game while Ezeh is in second in that category with 5.2. Senior Kaylan Martin is the program’s top point guard, assisting 3.9 times per game.
· UALR and Texas State had one common opponent in non-conference play, with both teams losing at Texas. The Trojans lost their game by 34 points while the Bobcats fell to the Longhorns by 54.
· Head coach Zenarae Antoine is in her third year with Texas State and has a 33-44 record thus far in her Bobcats career.
THE SERIES AGAINST TEXAS STATE
UALR and Texas State have faced off five times in their history with all but the most recent game coming more than a decade ago when the Bobcats still went by Southwest Texas State. The teams played four games in five years from 1998-2002, alternating wins and losses. Both Texas State wins came by more than 25 points, and the UALR wins were by 14 and 5 points. All five contests in the series were won by the home team including the most recent meeting on Jan. 2. In that game, the first Sun Belt game in Texas State history, the Trojans scored just 12 points in the first half on the way to a 42-35 defeat. Freshman Di’Mond Jackson led UALR with a career-high 11 points.
A WIN AGAINST TEXAS STATE WOULD…
…put UALR back over .500 overall and in conference play…tie the lifetime series with Texas State at 3-3…be the Trojans’ third straight win over the Bobcats in Little Rock…improve the Trojans to 3-0 in home conference games…bring UALR to 7-1 at home this year.
UALR VS. THE SUN BELT
In the last seven years, UALR has done a tremendous job in its conference games, claiming at least 12 victories in each of those years. The Trojans have not finished below .500 in the Sun Belt since the 2005-06 season, Joe Foley’s third year. UALR is also the six-time defending West Division champions, though there are no divisions in the league this year. Over the last seven seasons, the Trojans hold a record of 102-28 in the league. Against current Sun Belt opponents – after the departure of North Texas, Middle Tennessee, FIU and FAU in the off-season – UALR holds a record of 74-85.
JAMES HELPING OUT
Shanity James is normally known for her work scoring and rebounding, but on Saturday at Georgia State the sophomore posted a new career high in assists. Previously only getting four assists in a single game last year and with a 2013-14 season high of two, James dished out six helpers against the Panthers. Those assists wound up getting the Trojans 12 points on the board, and the six total is only two behind the single-game high of eight for any UALR player this season. Her assists also bumped up her season average from 0.7 to 1.1 per game.
Already the team leader in total blocks entering Saturday’s game, Taylor Gault exploded for three blocks against Georgia State. That total puts her at 11 on the season and moved her up to sole possession of fifth all-time at UALR. Gault, now with 74 blocks, needs only one more to move up to a tie for fourth all-time at UALR with Renee Renz (2005-07).
Kiera Clark has recorded double-digit rebounding games in each of her last three outings. The junior pulled down 13 boards against Troy, 12 at Western Kentucky and 10 at Georgia State. Entering the year, she had only accumulated 10 or more rebounds in one game over her previous two years. This season, she has done that four times, all in the last five games. She had never recorded back-to-back 10+ rebound games in her career before this week. At 6.6 rebounds per game, Clark easily leads the Trojans in that category. She is the first Trojan to have double-digit rebounds in back-to-back games since Britteni Williams did so on March 4 and March 5, 2012, and the first Trojan to have three consecutive double-digit rebounding games since Chastity Reed on Nov. 13, Nov. 20 and Nov. 21, 2009.
Besides picking up 10 rebounds against Georgia State, Clark also scored 18 points on a hot 9-of-17 shooting night. That gave the junior a double-double, just the second of her career and the third of the UALR season. Against Incarnate Word, freshman Kaitlyn Pratt (16 points, 15 rebounds) and sophomore Shanity James (13 points, 11 rebounds) tallied the Trojans’ first two double-doubles of the year. Prior to James and Pratt’s feat, UALR 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.
DRAWING A LINE
The UALR defense did a great job of keeping Georgia State off the free throw line on Saturday, preventing the Bobcats from taking a single free throw in the entire first half. That marked the first time all season UALR had not allowed a free throw in the first half. Before last week, the Trojans had never allowed fewer than four free throw attempts by an opponent in the first half of a game. But against WKU on Wednesday they allowed just two, and they shut out Georgia State completely. After foul trouble was a problem earlier in the year, the Trojans’ discipline seems to be improving.
SCORCHING SCORING PACE
After an up-and-down start to the year scoring, junior Taylor Gault has become much more consistent with her scoring pace. She has reached 20 points in four of her last five games. Before January, she had only scored 20 points in a game once in 10 games. Gault now leads UALR with 13.8 points per game, a number is also good for seventh in the Sun Belt this year.
JAMES LEADS THE WAY
Sophomore Shanity James has scored in double figures nine times during the season, but Wednesday’s game at WKU was the first time she led the Trojans in scoring. James tallied 14 points on 6 of 12 shooting and two free throws, topping the team for the first time since its WNIT game last season at Pacific. James has now led UALR in scoring eight times during her career.
Averaging just 4.3 minutes per game in her four-year career, little-used senior Nia Gregory scored a field goal at WKU for the first time in more than two years. A jumper in the second half was Gregory’s first bucket since Dec. 6, 2011, against South Dakota State and just the seventh and eighth points of her career. Gregory scored only one point on a free throw all of last season, made a field goal as a sophomore against South Dakota State and a 3-pointer at Memphis against her hometown team as a freshman. Gregory also tied a career high with one steal at WKU on Wednesday.
Joe Foley entered Wednesday's game against WKU using 11 different starting lineups in 14, and he had never used the same starting lineup in three consecutive games. But against the Hilltoppers, the starting lineup of Taylor Ford, Kiera Clark, Shanity James, Taylor Gault and Sharde’ Collins opened the contest for the third straight time, and he made it a fourth straight on Saturday at Georgia State. Ten of the team’s 12 healthy, eligible players have started a game this season. The only Trojans to start every game this year are Clark and James.
STRONG HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
UALR is a vastly superior program when playing at home this season, evidenced by its 49.2 points per game average on the road and its 66.6 points per game at home. The Trojans shoot 33.7 percent in road games but a much-better 45.7 percent in home games, and the team also has 104 assists at home versus 88 on the road in two extra games. All told, it adds up to a 6-1 record at the Jack Stephens Center and a 2-7 record elsewhere.
DOMINANT AT THE JSC
UALR performs very well at home and boasts an incredible 106-21 record in their home building since it opened in 2005-06, good for a winning percentage of .835. UALR is also 60-11 in conference games at the Jack Stephens Center, making them an even-better .845 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.
THREE POINT DEFENSE
Ranked first in the Sun Belt for weeks now in the category of 3-point field goal defense, the Trojans are also high up on the charts on a national level entering the week. As of Monday, UALR is allowing teams to shoot just 28.1 percent from beyond the arc this season, the 47th-best percentage in the nation. The Trojans finished the 2012-13 season second in the nation in this category and fifth in 2010-11.
DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS
GAULT MOVING UP THE RANKINGS
The Trojans pride themselves on defense, and so far this year their defense is tops in the Sun Belt and in the top 10 in the nation in points allowed per game. UALR is giving up just 55.6 points per game, lower than Sun Belt second-place Louisiana by nearly seven full points and nearly 14 points below the league average. No team has scored more than 72 points on UALR this season, 12 of the Trojans’ 16 opponents have managed fewer than 65 points and the team has given up fewer than 60 points eight of its last 10 games. Opponents are shooting just 38.3 percent from the field against the Trojans – also tops in the league, and UALR held Troy nearly 30 points below its season average on Jan. 11. UALR finished the 2012-13 season 25th in the nation in scoring defense, 47th in 2011-12, seventh in 2010-11 and seventh as well in 2009-10.
continues her assault on the Trojan record book during her junior season as she moved up to sixth all-time in points scored against UT Arlington. She is now 37 points away from moving up one more spot in that category. Her 14.7 points per game in her career is the third-highest total in school history, and she moved into sixth all-time with for made field goals against Georgia State. She also tied for seventh all-time with 94 made 3-pointers against the Panthers and took sole possession of fifth all-time in blocks. She needs five more steals to surpass Anshel Cooper for eighth.
SUN BELT PLAYER OF THE WEEK
For her 50-point week against South Alabama and Troy, junior Taylor Gault was honored by the Sun Belt and named its Player of the Week. That is the first conference weekly honor this season for UALR and the first such honor of Gault’s career. Gault was also named the Sun Belt Madness Player of the Week by CollegeSportsMadness.com.
BOUNDING UP THE RANKINGS
With three rebounds against Texas State, senior Hannah Fohne moved into sole possession of ninth-place all-time at UALR in that category just days after tying Nikya Hughes for that spot. Fohne now has 466 career rebounds and needs just two more for sole possession of eighth all-time. She is also six defensive rebounds shy of sixth all-time in school history.
CAREER NUMBERS WATCH
Against Georgia State:
· Taylor Gault moved up to fifth all-time in career blocks and tied for seventh all-time in made 3-pointers.
· Hannah Fohne will move into sole possession of the team’s all-time block total with seven more, and she is one field goal away from her 200th. She needs six more defensive rebounds to move to sixth at UALR and three more overall to move to eighth.
· Taylor Gault is 37 points shy of fifth all-time at UALR, six 3-pointers away from 100 and two blocks shy of sole possession of fourth all-time. She also needs just four steals to tie for eighth all-time.
· Taylor Ford needs two more rebounds to tie for 10th all-time at UALR.
· Kiera Clark is three assists shy of 100.
· Shanity James is eight points away from 400.
The Trojans will pass the halfway point of their conference road schedule this weekend when they travel to Jonesboro for a Saturday date with Arkansas State. UALR and the Red Wolves will tip off at 3:05 p.m.