GM 26 // UALR (14-11, 9-6 SBC) vs. Arkansas State (18-9, 12-3 SBC)
March 1, 2014 • 4:30 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 – It’s rivalry time. After losing at Arkansas State in late January, the UALR women’s basketball team will be looking for some revenge when the Red Wolves come to town on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. UALR fans can follow along with live video and stats at UALRTrojans.com or listen to the game on local radio on 920 AM.
· In its final road game of the regular season, UALR fell by an 86-77 margin at Troy. The loss was the team’s first ever against Troy.
· UALR scored more points than it had in all but two games during the year against the conference’s other Trojans, but it was not enough as high-scoring Troy matched UALR shot for shot.
· Shanity James had her third double-double of the year in the Wednesday contest, pulling down 13 rebounds to go along with her 15 points.
· The Trojans have impressed at home all season, and the team now holds a mark of 10-1 at the Jack Stephens Center. UALR has not lost a Sun Belt Conference game in Little Rock all year.
· UALR has not lost a regular-season game in March since Joe Foley began coaching here. The Trojans are 3-0 in those games since 2004.
· Arkansas State defeated UALR in the teams’ first meeting this year in Jonesboro. With a win Saturday, Arkansas State would clinch the regular-season Sun Belt Conference Championship.
· UALR is tied for third in the Sun Belt standings right now with Texas State.
ABOUT THE TROJANS
Entering Wednesday night on a season-long four-game winning streak, UALR was looking to extend that to five on the road at Troy. But the Sun Belt Conference’s other set of Trojans had other plans, winning a high-scoring, fast-paced game by an 86-77 margin. Shanity James had a double-double for UALR in the loss with 15 points and 13 rebounds, and three other UALR players reached double figures in scoring. Troy, though, had 33 points from Joanna Harden as it got its first ever win against UALR in 13 tries. Taylor Gault leads the Trojans with 15.4 points per game this season, while Clark tops the team with 6.4 rebounds per game and Taylor Ford has 3.7 assists each game. UALR is allowing a league-low 59.6 points per contest this year. The Trojans are currently in a tie for third in the conference standings with Texas State with three games left to go.
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 ARKANSAS STATE
· The Red Wolves, based in Jonesboro, are leading the Sun Belt Conference this season with a 12-3 record in league games and a 19-8 mark overall. Arkansas State is just one victory shy of clinching the regular-season conference championship. Most recently, they demolished Texas State by a 74-55 score last Saturday.
· In non-conference action, the Trojans and Red Wolves had two common opponents. While UALR went 0-2 against Missouri State and Louisiana Tech, the Red Wolves defeated both of those teams handily by more than 15 points each.
· As a team, Arkansas State is scoring 73.1 points per game – second in the Sun Belt – and are allowing 67.7 points per game, the fourth-best in the league. Arkansas State is shooting at a 43.5 percent clip, best in the league, but also allowing the opposition to shoot a league-high 43.5 percent. They are grabbing 4.7 rebounds per game more than their opponents.
· Individually, Aundrea Gamble is by far the Red Wolves’ leading scorer with 18.6 points per game. She is also dangerous on the boards, grabbing an average of 6.4 rebounds per game. Senior Jane Morrill, named to the Preseason All-Sun Belt Team, is scoring 12.3 points per game while teammates Hanna Qedan and Jalen O’Bannon are also over 10 points per game. O’Bannon leads the team in rebounding with 7.1 boards per night.
· Head coach Brian Boyer is in his 14th year as a head coach, all with Arkansas State. Boyer holds a 244-209 record lifetime with the Red Wolves.
THE SERIES AGAINST ARKANSAS STATE
Each other’s biggest rival, UALR and Arkansas State have squared off 51 times since the 1978 season when UALR’s game-by-game records begin. They also met several times before that, but the results are the same: The Red Wolves own the lifetime series. In the 51 games UALR has on record, the Red Wolves have a 37-14 lead. In the teams’ first 34 meetings from 1978 to 2006, the Trojans had just two victories. But since then, the Trojans are 12-5 against their in-state rivals. Before losing earlier this year, UALR was on a four-game winning streak that began in January 2012. The Red Wolves got the better of the Trojans in January, though, winning 77-45 on their home floor.
A WIN AGAINST ARKANSAS STATE WOULD…
…keep UALR in at least a tie for third place in the Sun Belt Conference standings…be the team’s ninth straight win over the Red Wolves at home.
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 108-31 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 80-88 all-time.
For the third time this season, UALR sophomore Shanity James produced a triple-double when she scored 15 points and tallied 13 rebounds at Troy on Wednesday night. James led the Trojans in both categories, marking just the fourth time all season one player topped the team in scoring and rebounds. James’ first double-double came against Incarnate Word in December (13 points, 11 rebounds), and she added her second against Louisiana in January (10 points, 10 rebounds). James leads the team in double-doubles this year. Kiera Clark and Kaitlyn Pratt have one each.
PUTTING UP POINTS
UALR’s 77 points score at Troy on Wednesday night tied its second-highest total of the season and tied its highest total in conference play. The team, which averaged 58.9 points per game entering the night, nearly bettered that averaged by 20. The team was helped by double-digit scoring efforts from Shanity James (15), Kiera Clark (14), Taylor Gault (12) and Kaitlyn Pratt (11), and Keanna Keys and Taylor Ford were within two points each of double figures.
EVERYONE HELPS OUT
In Wednesday’s game against Troy, UALR had eight total assists. But those eight assists were dished out by seven different players. Only Shanity James had two assists while Kiera Clark, Keanna Keys, Taylor Ford, Taylor Gault, Di'Mond Jackson and Kaitlyn Pratt had one each.
Against Troy, Taylor Ford and Taylor Gault went to the free-throw line a combined 10 times. The two Taylors hit all 10 of those shots, accounting for half of the team’s 20 made free throws in the game. Keanna Keys was also perfect from the line, though she only attempted one free throw. Ford also moved up to eighth all-time at UALR in made free throws during the game and is just eight away from seventh place in school history.
Senior Hannah Fohne brought down three rebounds in her seven minutes at Troy, but those three were enough to bring her to 500 in her long UALR career. Fohne is now one of just six Trojans ever to reach 500 in that category. Senior Taylor Ford needs 28 rebounds the rest of this year to become the seventh. Fohne is one of two players in school history with 500 rebounds and 100 blocks.
As the regular season enters its final month, UALR the Trojans find themselves in very rare historical territory. The team has only ever played one regular-season game in March per year, and most years it does not play a rergualr-season game in March at all. This time, the Trojans will be playing three March regular-season games. The team is 3-0 in March regular-season games under Joe Foley and has not lost a regular-season game in March since 2003. UALR last played more than one regular-season March game in 2000.
STRONG HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
UALR has been a vastly superior program when playing at home this season, evidenced by its 53.4 points per game average on the road and its 67.6 points per game at home. The Trojans shoot 37.4 percent in road games but a much-better 47.5 percent in home games, and the team also has 174 assists at home versus 144 on the road in three extra games. All told, it adds up to a 10-1 record at the Jack Stephens Center and a 4-10 mark away from home.
DOMINANT AT THE JSC
UALR performs very well at home and boasts an incredible 110-21 record in their home building since it opened in 2005-06, good for a winning percentage of .840. UALR is also 64-11 in conference games at the Jack Stephens Center, making them an even-better .853 in league games. UALR has won 16 of its last 17 home games and had not lost a home game in its last nine tries before No. 13 LSU came to town on Dec. 15. The team is undefeated at home in conference play this season at 6-0.
DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Trojans pride themselves on defense, and so far this year their defense is tops in the Sun Belt. UALR is giving up just 58.3 points per game, lower than Sun Belt second-place WKU by more than five full points and nearly 11 points below the league average. UALR also held WKU to just 51 points on Feb. 8, the Hilltoppers’ lowest total of the year by six points. Twenty of the Trojans’ 25 opponents have managed 65 points or fewer, and the team has given up 60 points or fewer 15 times. 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. They are currently 18th in the country this year.
While the Trojans have not been taking many long-distance shots, their scoring in the paint has been remarkably consistent in 2014. After scoring only 12 points in the paint against Texas State on Jan. 2, UALR has scored at least 18 points in the paint in every game this calendar year. The team had an impressive 42 points in the paint at Troy on Wednesday, 32 points in the paint at Arkansas State in January and also tallied 30 against Louisiana on Feb. 12 and 30 at ULM on Feb. 15.
CAREER NUMBERS WATCH
· Hannah Fohne recorded her 500th career rebound.
· Taylor Gault moved up to sixth all-time in made free throws.
· Taylor Ford is now eighth all-time in made free throws and ninth all-time in rebounding.
· Kaitlyn Pratt got her 100th point.
· Shanity James picked up her 200th defensive rebound.
· Taylor Ford needs seven more assists for 400 and two steals for 100.
· Kiera Clark’s next free throw attempt will be her 100th, and she is seven rebounds away from 400.
· Taylor Gault’s next made 3-pointer will put her of sole possession of sixth all-time at UALR.
· Sharde' Collins needs one more rebound for 50.
· Kaitlyn Pratt will get her 100th rebound with three more.
UALR is back in action quickly, playing Georgia State on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Jack Stephens Center. That game is a make-up game from their postponed contest on Feb. 5.