Women lose first SBC game
Sluggish offense caught up to the Trojan women’s basketball team on Wednesday, Feb. 16, as it lost its first game in conference play. UALR shot 38 percent in losing to the Western Kentucky Lady Hilltoppers 66-64 in front of a crowd of 1,641 at the Jack Stephens Center. The Trojans allowed WKU to shoot 49 percent, well above UALR’s leading field-goal percentage defense of 37 percent in the Sun Belt Conference.
“Offensively, we have to decide if we’re going to play hard or we’re just going to stand around and shoot jump shots,” Trojan coach Joe Foley said. “When we drove it in the first half for a seven or eight minute span, we dominated, took the ball to the hole and got to the free-throw line – pretty well took over.”
Trailing 15-6 with 9:18 remaining in the first half, senior forward Chastity Reed hit a 10-foot jump shot to begin an 11-2 UALR run, capped by Shanika Butler’s layup with 6:28 left. It was a back-and-forth affair the rest of the half with Western Kentucky (11-14, 8-5 SBC) leading 26-24 at intermission.
“We were sluggish,” senior point guard Asriel Rolfe said. “They came out with a lot of energy compared to our kind of mundane [play]. It messed us up. We put ourselves in a hole and had to come back.”
The Trojans (17-6, 11-1 SBC) forced 20 WKU turnovers, to its six, but were out-rebounded 43-26 and were minus-five in second-chance points to even out the turnover statistic.
“I think Western did a good job of beating us in the paint,” Foley said. “They manhandled us in the paint and that’s what good ball clubs do. The battles are won in the paint and they definitely won the battle in the paint. There’s no doubt about that.”
Down 37-30 with 17:00 left in the second half, the Trojans went on an 8-5 run the next 4:09 to get within a point. After Trojan sophomore Janette Merriex tied the game 51-51 with a 3-pointer at the 7:09 mark, there were six lead changes the rest of the way. Reed put in for two points with :40 left to make it a 64-63 Trojan lead, but WKU senior point guard Amy McNear hit a 5-foot jumper to take the lead back with :19. Junior WKU forward Teranie Thomas hit 1-2 free throws for her first points of the game to seal the game. Thomas had 13 rebounds.
Other than shooting 7-23 (30 percent), Reed had a good game. She finished with 17 points, nine rebounds, six assists and five steals with no turnovers. Butler was the true bright spot for the Trojans leading the team with 21 points on 7-13 shooting (7-7 FT), and pitching in four rebounds and four assists with no turnovers. Rolfe had six points and four assists.
“We’ve been escaping games and now we finally hit the wall on this one,” Rolfe said. “We’re going to have to find a way to bounce back. I don’t know exactly how that’s going to happen, but hopefully everybody will come back with some intensity and enthusiasm and be ready to come after Middle [Tennessee].”
Western Kentucky had four players who scored in double digits led by senior Arnika Brown’s 18 points, followed by junior LaTeira Owens’ 16.