Sun Belt Conference Women's Basketball news and notes

From the Sun Belt Conference

Week Five Sun Belt Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week

Alexis Govan (Western Kentucky, Sophomore, Guard)
WKU sophomore guard Alexis Govan continued her early season tear by helping WKU capture two road wins to remain unbeaten in conference play. Govan had 32 points in an 84-81 win at Troy on Saturday and 19 points in the 65-57 win at ULM. Against Troy, Govan scored 32 points in just 28 minutes and added six steals, three assists and two rebounds while shooting 11-of-16 from the field. She was also 8-of-8 from the free throw line, including two free throws to seal the game after getting a key steal in the final six seconds of the game. The 32-point performance was the first 30-point game for a Lady Topper since Jan. 2011. Against ULM, Govan hit 7-of-19 from the field in 29 minutes. Govan is currently averaging 20.7 points per game. If she maintains the mark, she could become just the seventh player in program history to average 20.0 points per game or more in a season.

Previous Players of the Week
11.13 - Ebony Rowe (Middle Tennessee, Junior, Forward)
11.20 - Chastity Gooch (Western Kentucky, Sophomore, Forward)
11.27 - Jerica Coley (FIU, Junior, Guard)

Around the Sun Belt Conference
The UALR Trojans improved to 6-1 on the season with wins over Troy on Thursday, November 29 and Louisiana-Monroe on December 1. The win over ULM was UALR's 300th program win. Currently the Trojans are ranked 6th in the nation in field-goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 30.4% from the floor and rank second in the SBC allowing just over 55 points per game.

The Trojans are on a five-game winning streak and take on Southern Miss on Tuesday night at home before heading out on the road for a game against Memphis on Friday.

Western Kentucky also continued its hot start posting a conference sweep last week. The Lady Toppers picked up wins over Louisiana-Monroe on Thursday and defeated high-scoring Troy on Saturday, December 1. The 5-1 start for the Lady Toppers is the first 5-1 start since the 2005-06 season when the team won nine of the first 10 games of the season.

The Lady Toppers host Vanderbilt on Tuesday before heading on the road against Morehead State. WKU wraps up the week on Sunday with a match-up at Kent State.

WKU's tandem of Alexis Govan and Chastity Gooch provide the one-two punch for the Lady Toppers. Govan, the player of the week, leads the SBC in scoring averaging 20.7 points per game. Govan's teammate, Gooch, leads the SBC in rebounding at 11.8 per game and is tied for eighth in scoring with 15 per game.

Florida Atlantic has come on strong as of late picking up wins in three consecutive games, two of which were conference games. The Owls defeated South Alabama on Wednesday and then defeated the Red Wolves of Arkansas State on Saturday. Part of this surge has been the play of the offense and Chenice Miller.

Miller scored a career-high 29 points against the Red Wolves and scored the games first 11 points. The Owls and Miller are averaging 74.9 points per game which ranks second in the SBC.

FAU plays at Mississippi State on Friday, December 7 before playing a nationally televised game against Wisconsin on Monday, December 10. The game against Wisconsin will be televised on the Big Ten Network, marking FAU's first appearance on the network.

Check out throughout the week for updated SBC basketball news, stats and scores.

Recent Results

NOVEMBER 28 (Wednesday)
Arizona 71, North Texas 67
* South Alabama 56, Florida Atlantic 67
Southern-New Orleans 49, Louisiana-Lafayette 71
Middle Tennessee 81, No. 16 Tennessee 88

NOVEMBER 29 (Thursday)
* Arkansas State 60, FIU 57
* Western Kentucky 65, Louisiana-Monroe 57
* Troy 52, UALR 75

NOVEMBER 23 (Saturday)
* Arkansas State 71, Florida Atlantic 79
Middle Tennessee 56, S. Dakota St. 63
* South Alabama 49 FIU 63
* Louisiana-Monroe 54, UALR 71
* Louisiana-Lafayette 59, North Texas 71
* Western Kentucky 84, Troy 81

Upcoming Games

DECEMBER 4 (Tuesday)
Austin Peay at Middle Tennessee - 11:00 AM
Spring Hill at South Alabama - 5:05 PM
Troy at Florida - 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt at Western Kentucky - 7:00 PM
Southern Miss at UALR - 7:30 PM

DECEMBER 6 (Thursday)
North Texas at Oklahoma - 7:00 PM
Xavier at Middle Tennessee - 7:00 PM
Western Kentucky at Morehead St. - TBA

DECEMBER 7 (Friday)
UALR at Memphis - 7:00 PM
Florida Atlantic at Mississippi St. - 7:00 PM

DECEMBER 8 (Saturday)
Central Arkansas at Arkansas State - 7:05 PM
Sam Houston St. at South Alabama - 7:05 PM

DECEMBER 9 (Sunday)
Western Kentucky at Kent State - 1:00 PM
Southern Miss at Louisiana-Monroe - 2:00 PM
Alabama St. at Troy - 2:00 PM
Middle Tennessee at Kentucky - TBA

DECEMBER 10 (Monday)
Jackson St. at Louisiana-Lafayette - 7:00 PM
Florida Atlantic at Wisconsin - TBA

Team News and Notes

UALR Trojans
UALR improved to 6-1, its second-best start in program history (7-1, 2008-09) after a weekend sweep against Troy and ULM to begin conference play. The Trojans blocked 11 shots against Troy, the most by UALR in six seasons. UALR blocked eight alone in the second half, which is more than in any other full game this season. Guard Taylor Gault blocked six shots alone in the half, the most by a Trojan player in more than a decade. Gault is now 40th in the nation, and third among guards, with 2.14 blocks per game. The Trojans are holding opponents to 30.4 shooting percentage, sixth best in the nation. In the latest mid-major polls, UALR is rated 12th by ESPN and 23rd by

Arkansas State Red Wolves
Arkansas State picked up its first victory of the season with a 60-57 victory over Florida International on Thursday, Nov. 29, but fell to Florida Atlantic on Saturday to fall to 1-6 on the year and 1-1 in Sun Belt Conference competition. Freshman guard Jalen O'Bannon scored a career-high 12 points in ASU's win over FIU. She played 22 minutes in the game, knocked down three shots from the field and was 6-of-7 from the free throw line. She added 10 points against FAU to finish the two-game stretch with 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting. The ASU bench has scored in double-digits in 7-of-7 games this season. The bench scored a season-high 29 points against UT-Martin and had 28 against USC and has only been outscored three times this season. ASU has now hit a 3-pointer in 96 straight games after knocking a '3' in each of its two games last week. The last time ASU did not make a 3-pointer was Nov. 20, 2009 aga inst Virginia Commonwealth. The Red Wolves went 24-of-28 from the free throw line against FIU and finished with a free throw percentage of 85 percent, which is its mark thus far. Junior Carlisha Wyatt made the first start of her career against FIU. She played 19 minutes, scored six points and pulled down five rebounds in the victory for the Red Wolves. Through its first seven games, ASU traveled over 5,700 miles. The Red Wolves traveled to Toledo to open the season and then went to UT-Martin before returning home for a pair of games. ASU then traveled to Los Angeles, California to take on USC and then went to Florida to take on FIU and FAU to open Sun Belt Conference play. ASU will return to the court Saturday, Dec. 8 when it takes in-state opponent Central Arkansas at 7 p.m.

Florida Atlantic Owls
Florida Atlantic has started Sun Belt Conference play 2-0 for the second straight season after home victories over South Alabama and Arkansas State. In both victories, the Owls overcame halftime deficits. FAU defeated South Alabama 67-56 before earning a 79-71 victory over Arkansas State. Junior forward Chenise Miller scored FAU's first 11 points against the Red Wolves. The strong start helped pave the way for a career-high 29 points and 13 field goals. The Oak Park, Mich. native also grabbed a game-high eight rebounds in the victory. Against South Alabama, junior guard Kimberly Smith scored a season-high 19 points on three 3-point field goals. Over the past five games, four different players have led the Owls in scoring. Overall, FAU ranks second in the SBC at 74.9 ppg and leads the league in turnover margin (+8.0) and committing the fewest turnovers (15.3). FAU plays at Mississippi State on Friday, December 7 at 8 p.m. b efore playing a nationally televised game against Wisconsin on Monday, December 10 at 8 p.m. The game against Wisconsin will be televised on the Big Ten Network, marking FAU's first appearance on the network.

FIU Panthers
FIU returned to Sun Belt Conference action this past weekend as the Panthers dropped a narrow 60-57 decision to Arkansas State before picking up their first league victory versus South Alabama, 63-49. In 73 career games, junior Jerica Coley has scored 1,433 career points, a mark which ranks seventh all-time at FIU. Through seven games in 2012-13, Coley has scored in double-figures in six contests, posting three, 20-plus point performances, as she ranks third in the Sun Belt and 31st in the nation in scoring (19.7 ppg). FIU shot a season-high 51.9 percent from the field versus South Alabama, converting a season-best 28 field goals in 54 attempts. The Panthers have hit 80.5 percent of their free throws this season to lead the Sun Belt and rank sixth in the nation in free throw percentage. The Panthers have out-rebounded the opposition in five of seven games this season, as they lead the Sun Belt Conference and rank 29th in the na tion in rebounding margin (+9.1). Junior Jerica Coley earned her fifth-career SBC Player of the Week nod on Nov. 27, 2012, tying an FIU record for career SBC weekly honors. Former Panther Gergana Slavtcheva (1998-2002) also achieved SBC Player of the Week recognition on five occasions. Head Coach Cindy Russo's 673 career victories rank ninth among active Division I coaches and 16th on the all-time winningest coaches list.

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns
The Ragin' Cajuns snapped a three-game losing streak, beating Southern-New Orleans 71-49. Louisiana opened the game on a 20-0 run and freshman Sylvana Okde led the Cajuns with 20 points. Three others turned in double-digit efforts: Kia Wilridge (15 points, 6 steals), Jasmin Mills (14 points, 10 rebounds), and Robbie Brown (10 points, 6 rebounds). Louisiana dropped a 71-59 decision to Sun Belt Conference foe North Texas on Saturday night in Denton, Texas. With the loss, Louisiana falls to 3-4 overall and 0-2 in SBC play. Three Ragin' Cajuns scored in double figures with junior Ashley Benjamin leading the way with 14 points. Byronesha Santiago nearly posted a double-double, scoring ten points and grabbing eight rebounds in only 12 minutes of action. Sylvana Okde contributed 10 points on the night, as she has now scored in double-figures in five of seven contests this season. The Ragin' Cajuns return t o action on Monday, Dec. 10 hosting Jackson State. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Earl K. Long Gym.

Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks
Mona Martin coached her 500th game with ULM on Saturday at UALR... Alexar Tugler averaged 14.5 points per game for the week, highlighted by a season-high 17-point performance against Western Kentucky in the Sun Belt opener... Sharnice Brooks collected career-highs in nearly every category against WKU with 12 points, four blocks and 21 minutes... ULM is now 403 all-time in Sun Belt openers and 4-2 when opening conference play at home... the program is five wins away from 600 all-time victories... Mona Martin needs seven wins for 250 and ULM is five home wins away from 300 inside Fant-Ewing Coliseum... Ashleigh Simmons continues to put up solid rebounding numbers as she pulled down 15 this past week in the two games and has 55 this season (7.9 per game), which is fourth in the Sun Belt.

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Middle Tennessee returns home to Murphy Center for a two game homestand after a five game road swing that spanned 5,000 miles. The Blue Raiders (4-3) had two tough losses on the road with a heartbreaking 88-81 overtime defeat at No. 16/14 Tennessee and a 63-56 loss at South Dakota State. MT led for most of the game against the Lady Vols, but UT used a strong run in overtime to outlast the Raiders. Icelyn Elie scored 21 points and seven rebounds in the loss, while Ebony Rowe reached her 35th career double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Middle Tennessee leads the nation with three overtime games played so far this season. Against SDSU, Rowe became the school's all-time record holder for offensive rebounds by grabbing three against the Jacks. The junior, who has 369 boards coming into the week, passed former Blue Raider Krystle Horton's standard of 368 offensive rebounds. Rowe finished the game with 23 p oints and seven boards. Two Blue Raiders are inching closer to becoming members of the elusive 1,000-point club. Kortni Jones is 41 points away, while Icelyn Elie needs 67 points to reach the standard. Head Coach Rick Insell is four wins from becoming the school's all-time wins leader. In his eight years, the Blue Raiders hold a 178-57 record. The Blue Raiders 42nd nationally in scoring offense (72.3 ppg), 37th in free throw percentage (74.5%), 34th in 3-point field goals per game (7.0) and 31st in turnover margin (+5.86). Individually, Rowe ranks 26th with 20.1 points per game and is 48th with 10.0 rebounds a contest. Jones is 38th with 5.4 assists per game. MT is 12th nationally with a 12 game win streak on their home court. MT returns to Murphy Center with an 11 a.m. tip against Austin Peay on Tuesday, Dec. 4 for Murfreesboro City Schools Education Day. Over 7,500 students are expected to attend the event. On Thursday, the Raiders host A-10 foe Xavier in a 7 p.m. ma tchup that is televised on ESPN3.

North Texas Mean Green
North Texas travels to OU this Thursday for a battle with Sooners after winning its first conference contest of the season against the Ragin Cajuns of Louisiana. The Mean Green is 2-19 all time against OU with the most recent meeting being a 79-42 loss in 2007. Oklahoma has won its last six straight including a 3-0 sweep of the Rainbow Wahine Showdown tournament in Honolulu, Hawaii.Junior guard Laura McCoy has knocked down 75 career 3-pointers in her career. Her ranged shooting is good for 8th all time in North Texas history. She also is posting a .429 3-point shooting percentage this season, a mark that, if held, would put her at the top of the charts in North Texas history. In North Texas's last outing against conference rival Louisiana, the Mean Green saw four players score in double digits. Scoring has come from every corner of the Mean Green's roster as seven different girls have posted double digit efforts in a balan ced North Texas offensive attack throughout the season.

South Alabama Jaguars
South Alabama closed out its five-game road stretch and began the Sun Belt Conference portion of its schedule this past week with a pair of losses.  USA fell 67-56 at Florida Atlantic on Wednesday and then dropped a 63-49 decision at Florida International on Saturday. The 0-2 start to league play is the first for the Lady Jags since the 2010-11 season and eighth in the program's history (2012-13, 2010-11, 2006-07, 1999-2000, 1997-98, 1995-96, 1994-95, 1993-94).  After getting off to a 4-0 start, USA has now dropped three of its last four games. South Alabama is now 9-6 in the all-time series and 8-5 under head coach Rick Pietri versus Florida Atlantic.  FAU is 5-3 in the series in Boca Raton.  With the loss to the Owls, USA is 15-14 all-time in Sun Belt Conference road openers and 7-6 in those games under Pietri. Senior guard Camille Reynolds returned to the South Alabama lineup versus FAU after missing the previous three games due to a concussion. The 51.8 field-goal percentage by the Owls and the 62.5 second-half field-goal percentage were both season-highs by an opponent versus the Lady Jags this season.  The 26 turnovers by South Alabama against Florida Atlantic tied a season-high first set against Tennessee State. The 3-of-12 showing at the free-throw line against FAU was also a season low for USA. With the loss to Florida International, South Alabama dropped to 11-16 in the all-time series.  FIU has now won five of the last six meetings in the series, including each of the last three.  The 28 points by FIU's Jerica Coley are the most by a Lady Jag opponent this season. With her eight rebounds versus Florida International, junior forward Ronneka Robertson has now had six or more rebounds in six of her eight games this season. USA held a second-half lead to both FAU and FIU, only to allow a big run to its opponents.  With USA holding a 35-32 l ead with just under 16 minutes showing on the clock, the Owls reclaimed the lead and broke the game open with a 15-2 run over the next six minutes.  Against FIU, South Alabama held a 37-35 advantage with just over 17 minutes to go, but then allowed a 14-0 spurt by the Panthers.

Troy Trojans
The Trojans (1-5, 0-2) dropped a pair of conference games on the week, falling at UALR before returning home and falling to WKU. Despite the two losses, the Trojans are still averaging 81.4 points per game, the most in conference and the ninth most in the nation.  The Trojans have scored well from the perimeter and inside.  Troy averages 6.5 made 3-pointers per game, third in the league, and averages 26.2 free throw attempts per game, first in the league. Troy is shooting 41.7 percent from the field as a team, the third best mark in the conference, while Troy's 35.8 3-point field goal percentage is second best in the conference.  Troy also leads the league with 44.0 rebounds per game. Troy is led by a balanced scoring attack.  The Trojans have four players averaging in double figures for the season, including three over 12.0 points per game, a feat no other Sun Belt team can claim. This week Troy travels to Flor ida on Tuesday before hosting Alabama State on Sunday.  The game against Florida marks the first of three games against SEC opponents this month.  Troy hosts Alabama (12/15) and travels to Mississippi State (12/29). Troy last played three games against SEC opponents in 1997-98 (Mississippi State twice, Auburn).  Troy last played three power conference teams in a season in 2004-05 (Mississippi State, Providence, Vanderbilt).

WKU Hilltoppers
WKU has started the season 5-1 for the first time since the 2005-06 season when it won nine of the first 10 games of the season. WKU has started Sun Belt Conference play with three straight wins for the first time since 2007-08 when they won their first 11 league contests en route to a 16-2 conference record and East Division championship. WKU is 3-0 in Sun Belt Conference play and stand at the top of the league standings. The Lady Toppers are averaging 70.3 points per game and have held two of three opponents in league play under 60 points. WKU's Alexis Govan is averaging 20.7 points per game. If she can maintain a 20.0 points per game average throughout the season, she would become the seventh player in program history to achieve the feat. WKU's Chastity Gooch has a double-double in every game this season and is averaging 11.8 rebounds per game. Her 11.8 average would stand as the best single-season mark in program histo ry, ahead of the 1..8 recorded by Arnika Brown in 2008-09. Alexis Govan had a huge night to help WKU improve to 3-0 in SBC play with a 32-point performance against Troy on Dec. 1, 2012. It was the first 30 point game for WKU since Janae Howard had 30 vs. Troy on Jan. 22, 2011. She was joined in scoring at least 20 points in the game by Chastity Gooch's 25 point performance. It was the first time WKU had two players scored 20 points in a game since Feb. 5, 2011 when Janae Howard (24) and Arnika Brown (20) had the mark against Louisiana-Monroe. Chastity Gooch made Lady Topper history on Thursday night as she became the first Lady Topper in history to start a season with five straight double-doubles.  She is one of three players in the nation to record a double-double in every game this season, joining Texas' Nneka Enemkpali and Charlotte's Jennifer Hailey. She now has six double-doubles on the season. WKU scored 84 points in their win over Troy on Dec. 1 , 2012. Earlier this season, WKU scored 80 points in their 80-69 win over Murray State, marking the first time WKU had reached the 80-point plateau since March 3, 2011 in a 81-66 win over North Texas in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. WKU has won 47 consecutive games when scoring 80 points. WKU's last loss when scoring 80 points or more came March 14, 2002 when WKU suffered a 91-84 setback to Illinois in the WNIT in Champaign, Ill. All-time, WKU is 407-23 (.946) when reaching the 80-point plateau. WKU has won 78 of its last 79 games when scoring 80 points or more, dating to the start of the 2002-03 season. Alexis Govan, who was third on the team in scoring a year ago, has already scored the equivalent of 63 percent of her total scoring output from a year ago through the first four games of the season. Chastity Gooch has already amassed nearly 49 percent of her total point production from a year ago. The Lady Toppers have already surpassed their road win total from a season ago.  WKU went 1-13 in true road games a season ago, and was a combined 5-22 on the oppositions home floor in the previous two campaigns. WKU is currently averaging 14.4 points per game more this year than in 2011-12.