Lady Trojans ready for SBC Tournament
The senior trio of Chastity Reed, Shanika Butler and Asriel Rolfe led the Lady Trojans to a 59-46 victory over the North Texas Lady Mean Green Tuesday, March 1, on senior night at the Jack Stephens Center to end the regular season. The Trojans have the No. 1 seed and first-round bye in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Hot Springs and face the winner of the South Alabama/Louisiana-Lafayette game on Sunday.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Rolfe said. “We’ve been here for four years together. It’s kind of sad [its] our last home game, but we’re looking forward to postseason.”
The Mean Green (5-24, 2-14 SBC) started the game on a 7-2 run, but the Trojans (20-7, 14-2 SBC) quickly regrouped and went on a 6-0 run to take a one-point lead at the 13:47 mark. UALR led 29-20 at the half.
“I thought it was a very good defensive game for us,” Trojan coach Joe Foley said. “They have a lot of quickness and we kept them from getting to the hole. Offensively, we started off a little slow, but we were trying to be a little more patient and get good shots every time and I think you can see by the shooting percentage.”
The Trojans shot 45 percent from the field for the game and held the Mean Green to 40 percent. UALR forced 15 North Texas turnovers and had 10 more assists for the game, led by Rolfe’s six.
After a Denetra Kellum jumper to begin the second half, the Trojans went on a 10-0 run to take a 39-22 lead capped by a Reed put in with 16:05 left. The Mean Green got no closer than 11 points the rest of the game and that was after the seniors had left the game to a standing ovation.
Reed led the Trojans with 17 points, while teammate Marian Kursh had six rebounds to lead the team, along with 11 points. Rolfe had 11 points and five rebounds while freshman Taylor Ford picked up her third start of the year, scoring 10 points on 5-6 shooting.
“Taylor deserved it,” Foley said. “Taylor’s been playing pretty well. I thought [she] played a very good ballgame tonight. She played great defense. I thought she did an excellent job.”
Butler had eight points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals and was concerned with the Trojans’ recent slow starts.
“We have to wake up [and] stop coming out so sluggish,” Butler said. “We have to come out with way more intensity than we do. Even tonight we came out slow. This is the week we have to pick it all up.”
After making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team last season, the Trojans will have to win the SBC Tournament to make it this year. UALR defeated Georgia Tech 63-53 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to Oklahoma in the second round.
“Now is the most important time,” Butler said. “This is where all the fun begins. All the homework we did over the year. It’s just time to go forward and just get to it.”
“Throw everything out the door now,” Foley reiterated. “It’s all about the tournament. You better have some enthusiasm, you better have intensity and you better have focus if you want to keep playing.”