Ladies clinch SBC West
The Lady Trojan basketball team clinched the Sun Belt West division with a win against the Sun Belt East’s first place team, the Middle Tennessee Lady Blue Raiders, 69-61, Sunday, Feb. 20 in front of a crowd of 2,557. It is UALR’s fourth consecutive West division title.
“I thought defensively we did a great job on not letting anybody just dominate,” Trojan coach Joe Foley said. “They didn’t dominate from the 3-point line. I thought we did a good job on the post and then offensively in the second half, we got some real good things. We got some easy baskets.”
The Trojans (18-6, 12-1 SBC) started the game on a 14-4 run in the first 9:36, but Middle Tennessee (22-6, 13-2 SBC) countered with a 10-2 run capped by a 3-pointer by senior Anne Marie Lanning. Lanning scored 16 points for the game. MTU led 30-26 at the half.
In the second half, Trojan junior forward Britteni Williams scored a layup from a pass by senior Chastity Reed to take the lead 33-31 during a 22-7 UALR run that lasted 8:34. The Trojans took an 11-point lead after a Reed 10-foot jumper at the 11:26 mark and never trailed again. Reed finished with 15 points on 6-12 shooting while distributing six assists and grabbing six rebounds.
“It was about bouncing back after the other night, after the loss [against Western Kentucky],” senior guard Shanika Butler said. “I think it was great for us to go out there and just play hard as a team. I’m talking offensive-wise and defensive-wise. We just kept moving. Our intensity level was much better than it was in any past game and hopefully we can stay this way because we have three games left.”
The Trojans shot 49 percent from the field, the best they have shot since they shot 57 percent against Troy on Jan. 8. They held the Blue Raiders to 43 percent shooting and 15 points below MTU’s scoring average of 76.3 in conference games.
“I couldn’t really tell how focused we were as far as defensively,” Foley said. “I thought we were pretty loose and I don’t think we felt any pressure. I thought our offense was ready to play. We were more of a team today.”
Williams scored a season-high 12 points, hitting 4-4 field-goal attempts and playing solid defense on MTU leading scorer Ebony Rowe, who led the Blue Raiders with 18 points and eight rebounds. Williams, averaging 8.2 minutes in conference games, played 20 minutes.
“We just knew we had to adjust, where other people had to pick up, where other things were happening,” Williams said. “We just did well. Luckily I was there to step up.”
“One thing about Brit I love to death is she is a Lady Trojan,” Foley said. “It means something to her. It doesn’t matter if she’s on the bench. She’s probably one of the most vocal at telling [players] what to do. She takes a lot of pride in it and I couldn’t be happier for a [player] to do what she did today than her.”
Junior forward Marian Kursh scored a team high 17 points for the Trojans on 6-9 shooting (5-5 free throws) and grabbed five rebounds in limited action due to foul trouble. Butler had 15 points and six assists for UALR. MTU forward KeKe Stewart had 15 points off the bench.
The Trojans travel to Mobile, Ala. to face South Alabama at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 23, before playing the Arkansas State Red Wolves in Jonesboro.