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Defense helps coach win No. 600

Submitted by Tony Lenahan on February 5, 2011 – 1:53 pmNo Comment

The Lady Trojans held the Arkansas State Lady Red Wolves to 25 percent shooting for the game in winning 53-36 Saturday, Jan. 29, at the Stephens Center. The victory was UALR coach Joe Foley’s 600th career win and marked the second time this season the Trojans have held an opponent under 40 points.

Shanika Butler drives against ASU on Saturday, Jan. 29, at the Jack Stephens Center. Butler had 8 points and 8 assists in the 53-36 victory. Photo by Chelsey Brummett.

“With the bunch of seniors like we’ve got it’s kind of special,” Foley said about winning number 600. “I look forward to hopefully having another class like this that gets me another hundred and maybe even quicker. The quicker they come, the more fun it is.”

The senior trio of Asriel Rolfe, Shanika Butler and Chastity Reed have led the Trojans to a 90-28 record (.763 winning percentage) since the 2007-08 season and they each played all 40 minutes in Saturday’s game against ASU.

Tied 6-6 with 13:18 left in the first half, junior forward Marian Kursh started and ended an 8-2 Trojan run with layups to make it a 14-8 UALR advantage. The Trojans (14-5, 8-0 SBC) held ASU without a field goal the last 11:26 and finished the half on an 11-2 run to make it 25-11.  Kursh finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.

ASU (11-12, 4-6 SBC) shot 19 percent in the first half and the 11 points scored was the least they have scored all year and the least the Trojans have allowed in a half this season.

“I thought defensively it was a great ball game,” Foley said. “I thought we came out with a lot of intensity. We wanted to make sure they didn’t get off to a good start.”

“This game of basketball is not any fun if you can’t score,” ASU coach Brian Boyer said. “We played, I thought well defensively. We just didn’t score enough obviously. The thing too with Little Rock, I’ve watched them enough times on film. It just seems like they have another gear that they use when it’s necessary.”

ASU sophomore guard Quinishia McDowell scored five points during an 8-2 run to begin the second half, making the score 27-19 with 15:48 remaining. McDowell finished with 14 points to lead the Red Wolves.

Chastity Reed struggles for control of the basketball against ASU at the Jack Stephens Center on Saturday, Jan. 29. Reed led the Lady Trojans with 16 points in the 53-36 victory. Photo by Chelsey Brummett.

“It was tough offensively, but defensively I felt like we held our own,” McDowell said. “We knew it was going to be tough trying to play offense because of how physical they play.”

Jane Morrill scored a layup for Arkansas State with 9:43 left to make it a 37-30 UALR lead, but the Trojans countered with a 10-0 run in the next 1:49 capped by a Janette Merriex 3-pointer to make it 47-30.

Reed led the Trojans with 16 points and nine rebounds. Butler had eight points and eight assists, while Rolfe finished with six points, five rebounds and five assists.

“I thought we played with a lot of enthusiasm tonight and that’s key when you’ve got three seniors that have been through these wars,” Foley said. “If they start playing with enthusiasm, everything gets a little easier.”

“Any time you take pride in your defense, you have a chance to be a special team,” he continued. “It’s the old saying, ‘Championships are won with defense.’ You can win games with offense, but championships, you have to be able to play night in and night out. Our kids take a lot of pride.”

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