Big Senior Night for Taylor Ford
The UALR Lady Trojan basketball team got a career performance by senior Taylor Ford on Senior Night in a 72-62 victory over ULM on Saturday, March 8 at the Jack Stephens Center.
Ford tied her career high with 24 points to lead the team. It was Ford’s final home game as a Lady Trojan and the team’s final game of the regular season.
The win was the third in a row for the Lady Trojans, giving them a 17-11 record for the season. More importantly, however, the win gives them a 12-6 conference record, which kepeps them in third place in the SBC standings. The Lady Trojans finish the season undefeated at home during their conference schedule and will be the third seed at the SBC tournament in New Orleans.
The first half was not one that UALR head coach Joe Foley particularly enjoyed as the University of Louisiana Monroe players were allowed easy inside baskets on nearly 55 percent shooting. Foley cited a lack luster effort in practice carrying over to the first 30 minutes of the game.
The Lady Trojans were down by as many as nine points in the half and trailed for virtually the entire first half. But, the Lady Trojans managed to keep ULM within two points at the half 31-29. This is despite UALR shooting only 40.6 percent from the field, including 0-3 from three-point range and being outrebounded 20-11. The had a chance to tie the game, but missed a couple of attempts right before the halftime buzzer. The aggressive play from Ford in the first half helped keep the contest close. She had 11 points in the half on 5 for 8 shooting.
The second half began with more of the same as ULM continued to get its points inside the paint and the team stretched to 12 when ULM’s Alexar Tugler hit a three-pointer less than 7 minutes into the second half. The 12-point lead was the largest of the game for ULM and the Lady Trojans seemed to be teetering on the edge, but Keanna Keys came back on the offensive end with a 3-point play, cutting the lead back to 9 and sparking the team to ignite its comeback run.
The Lady Trojans continued to work away at the lead, cutting it to two when sophomore Shanity James grabbed an offensive board and was fouled on the putback. James attributed the in the second half surge to having a more defensive mindset.
“I think when you’re on offense and your shot’s not falling, if you’re not mentally prepared or tough, I think it can have an affect [on defense]. I think we’re getting much better at ‘Ok, I’m not doing good on offense so let me go to the defensive end and try to put out an effort and do something for my team,’” James said.
Her free throw gave the Lady Trojans the team’s first lead since early in the first half. After a couple of scores by each team, junior Taylor Gault had her own personal 7-2 run that made it 62-55 with a little more than four minutes remaining in the game. The Lady Trojans kept the lead by hitting every free throw they took in the second half. They were 16 for 16 from the line.
The Lady Trojans now turn their attention to the SBC tournament where they will face Troy in the opening round. The championship game will be Saturday March 15 on ESPN3. The Lady Trojans last won the tournament in the 2011-12 season and are poised to make another possible run at the title this season.
“Anything is possible, cause this thing is wide open. We’ve proven in the last two or three weeks that we’re as good as anybody,” Foley said. “It’s going to be whoever can be mentally prepared.”