Lady Trojans dominate in victory
The Lady Trojans led by 18 points at halftime en route to a 64-40 win over the Rice Lady Owls on Saturday, Dec. 18, at the Jack Stephens Center in front of 1,802 people. Sophomore Janette Merriex and senior Asriel Rolfe combined to make 11-17 3-pointers, often with wide-open looks, to lead the team to victory.
“It was a good game for us because we saw a lot of junk defenses – saw a lot of zone, triangle-and-two, diamond-and-one,” coach Joe Foley said. “I thought that Janette and Asriel both did a good job of hitting their open threes – it kind of broke [Rice’s] back in that situation.”
The Trojans (5-5) started the game on an 8-0 run with consecutive 3-pointers from Rolfe and Merriex to set the tone. Rolfe scored 19 points on 5-7 3-point shots to lead all scorers and Merriex added 18 points (6-10 3-ptrs).
“I thought I shot the ball really good,” Merriex said. “I’m getting a little more confidence when it comes to shooting the ball. I didn’t think it would be that wide open how it was tonight, because they were so focused on Chas.”
“I think we played pretty good, those defenses they were throwing at us,” Rolfe added. “I’m glad me and Janette were knocking shots down today.”
Rice (5-5) didn’t score consecutive field goals until the 10:13 mark in the second half when freshman Jessica Kuster and senior D’Frantz Smart scored back-to-back lay-ups to make it a 47-26 UALR advantage. Kuster finished with 15 points and eight rebounds to lead the Owls.
Trojans leading scorer Chastity Reed had only 12 points, eight points below her season average, but she did contribute 10 rebounds for her second double-double of the season. She was hampered by a sprained ankle she suffered in UALR’s previous game against St. Mary’s.
“It’s pretty swelled up,” Foley said of Reed’s ankle. “She showed a lot of guts getting out there today and playing.”
The Trojans held Owls’ leading scorer Brianna Hypolite (13.1 avg.) to eight points and the 40 points allowed for the game is a new season low for UALR. Hypolite hit a 3-pointer with 18:43 to play in the game to make the score 37-20, but the Owls never got closer.
“I think our defense is getting better each game,” Foley said. “I think we’re understanding to take away the teams’ other strengths and focusing on our defense. I think we’re playing a little smarter on defense.”
With Shanika Butler getting healthier and Reed becoming more consistent, the Trojans are playing with more continuity.
“It feels better out there,” Rolfe said. “It feels like we’re finding each other better. We’re getting in the groove to know each other on the court. I know where [Merriex] likes to shoot it, I know where Nik likes to be, I know where Chas likes to get the ball, so we’re kind of getting into a rhythm with each other now.”
Butler didn’t score in the game, but did have eight rebounds and eight assists, while freshman Hannah Fohne added 10 rebounds. The Trojans’ dominating performance included out-rebounding Rice 45 to 27 and recording 21 assists to the Owls’ five.
The Trojans will take on Loyola Marymount in the last game of the non-conference schedule Monday, Dec. 20, at the Jack Stephens Center.