Women in SBC Championship Game
The West No. 1 seed Lady Trojans will play in its third consecutive Sun Belt Championship game after defeating the East No. 2 seed Florida International Panthers 47-37 Monday, March 7, at Summit Arena in Hot Springs. UALR will face East No. 3 seed Western Kentucky at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8.
“I thought defensive-wise, we played a good ball game,” Trojan coach Joe Foley said. “We did a good job of shutting them down. Chas had a good offensive day again today. She pretty much carried us offensively, but defensively is where we won that basketball game.”
Senior Chastity Reed scored the first four points of the game on her way to scoring 10 points in the first half and 20 for the game on 10-16 shooting. She scored 22 points in a second-round game against South Alabama on March 6.
It was a sloppy first 20 minutes as both teams combined for 17 turnovers and FIU (16-16) was called for three shot-clock violations. The two teams scored a total of nine points during a 9:24 stretch. The Trojans went on a 7-0 run to end the half and led 23-12 going into the locker room. UALR held FIU to 27 percent shooting in the half, while shooting 43 percent.
Sophomore forward Janette Merriex hit 2-2 3-pointers and scored six points in the first half finishing with 11 points for the game on 3-7 from 3-point range. She added five rebounds. The past 11 games, Merriex has shot 25 percent from the field, including 27 percent from 3-point range.
“Basically, I was having trouble with my shot selection,” Merriex said. “I wasn’t taking good shots, but I really concentrated [and] had confidence today.”
The Trojans (22-7) ended a 10-0 run capped by a Reed 10-foot jump shot to give UALR a 35-16 advantage with 11:12 left in the game. She scored 10 consecutive points for the Trojans during a 3:58 span. Panther junior guard Fanni Hutlassa scored seven points during a 9-0 FIU run to get within 13 points at the 3:49 mark, but the damage had already been done.
Trojan junior forwards Marian Kursh and Britteni Williams each had six rebounds to lead the team. Jerica Coley had 14 points to lead FIU, while Hutlassa finished with 11. The Panthers shot 30 percent for the game.
Western Kentucky is one of two SBC teams that beat the UALR this year, defeating them 66-64 at the Jack Stephens Center Feb. 16. If the Trojans beat WKU tomorrow, the team will receive an automatic bid to the Women’s NCAA Tournament.
“It’s not a winning season yet,” Reed said. “We have to win tomorrow. What we did so far is in the past now. It’s going to be a good challenge.”