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Sun Belt Conference Women's Basketball news and notes

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From the Sun Belt Conference

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

Ebony Rowe (Middle Tennessee, Junior, Forward)
Junior Ebony Rowe belted off three double-doubles as Middle Tennessee completed a 2-1 record for the week. Rowe averaged 19.0 points and 12.7 rebounds per game last week. She shot at a 44.7 percent clip (21-of-47) from the field, while snatching nine steals and dishing out eight assists. The Lexington, Ky., native scored 14 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in MT's 70-56 win over Austin Peay. Rowe stole three passes and blocked a pair of shots against the Lady Govs. Two days later, Rowe notched 24 points and grabbed 14 boards with a season-high five steals in MT's 63-48 win over Xavier. The junior forward didn't let up, picking up her sixth double-double this season with 19 points and 10 rebounds at No. 7/6 Kentucky. Sunday's double-double at UK, moved Rowe into a tie for the school's all-time career double-doubles record, tying Priscilla Robinson's mark of 38. Rowe moved into 16th all-time in scoring as she has 1,267 points and moved up to seventh with 754 rebounds in her three-year career. Rowe is leading the Blue Raiders with 19.8 points and 10.8 rebounds in 10 games played this 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)
12.04 - Alexis Govan (Western Kentucky, Sophomore, Guard)

Around the Sun Belt Conference
UALR (8-1) is off to its best start in school history after knocking off Memphis for the first time in eight attempts Friday in Memphis. Leading from the opening, UALR has not trailed in three games in the month of December. The Trojans last deficit came with 17:40 left in the first half when they trailed Troy 5-4 on Nov. 29.

Arkansas State earned its first home victory over the season with a 58-51 victory over Central Arkansas on Dec. 8 at the Convocation Center. The Red Wolves have now won two out of their last three games and improved their record to 2-6 on the year.

Florida Atlantic had a last-second shot to win two games against teams from major Division I conferences. The Owls dropped a one-point 59-58 game at Mississippi State on Friday, December 7 before falling 82-73 in overtime at Wisconsin on Monday, December 10.

The Panthers have hit 80.5 percent of their free throws this season to lead the Sun Belt and rank fourth in the nation in free throw percentage. FIU ranks second in the Sun Belt Conference and 30th in the nation in blocked shots, as the Panthers are averaging 5.3 blocks per game. Individually, junior Jerica Coley leads the SBC in blocks (2.57 bpg) and ranks 25th in the nation in the category.

Louisiana-Lafayette returns to Earl K. Long Gym to host Jackson State on Monday, Dec. 10 at 7:00 p.m. and New Orleans on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 7:00 p.m. The Ragin' Cajuns dropped a 71-59 decision to Sun Belt Conference foe North Texas in Denton, Texas on Dec. 1. The Cajuns picked up a victory on Monday night, defeating Jackson State 68-57 to improve to 4-4 on the season.

Mona Martin coached her 500th game with ULM on at UALR on Dec. 1. The Warhawks Jasmine Shaw scored a career-high 27 points in the 73-55 win over Southern Miss as ULM collected its first home win of the season.

Middle Tennessee (6-4) closed a daunting non-conference slate with a 2-1 record last week. The Blue Raiders picked up a 70-56 win over Austin Peay and a 63-48 victory against Xavier before dropping a 68-46 contest to No. 7/6 Kentucky on Sunday. MT used a balanced scoring attack as Kortni Jones led all scorers with 17 points. Ebony Rowe reached a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds. The Blue Raiders saw a crowd of 10,107 attend the Murphy Center in a Tuesday day game affair for the second largest crowd in school history.

After falling just short of a historic victory for the Mean Green at Oklahoma, North Texas gets a breather before hosting UTA in Denton on Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. NT put down UTA 66-47 in last season's opener to even the overall series at 20-20.

After dropping its two games last week, South Alabama bounced back with a 2-0 mark this week, picking up wins over Spring Hill (86-52) and Sam Houston State (71-61). USA opened up the week with a 34-point win over cross-town rival Spring Hill on Tuesday. With the win over SHC, South Alabama is now 27-3 all-time in the series and have won 14 straight.

The Trojans (2-6, 0-2) split a pair of non-conference games this week, falling at Florida before defeating Alabama State at home. Troy defeated the Hornets, 90-88, thanks to Kourtney Coleman's buzzer-beating layin.

WKU is now 7-2 on the season, including a 3-0 mark in Sun Belt Conference play. The Lady Toppers' record of 7-2 is their best since starting the 2005-06 season with a 9-1 mark. WKU is 3-0 in Sun Belt Conference play and stand at the top of the league standings. 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.

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

Recent Results

DECEMBER 4 (Tuesday)
Austin Peay 56, Middle Tennessee 70
Spring Hill 52, South Alabama 86
Troy 62, Florida 87
Vanderbilt 77, Western Kentucky 67
Southern Miss 45, UALR 64

DECEMBER 6 (Thursday)
North Texas 68, Oklahoma 71
Xavier 48, Middle Tennessee 63
Western Kentucky 62, Morehead St. 38

DECEMBER 7 (Friday)
UALR 56, Memphis 44
Florida Atlantic 58, Mississippi St. 59

DECEMBER 8 (Saturday)
Central Arkansas 51, Arkansas State 58
Sam Houston St. 61, South Alabama 71

DECEMBER 9 (Sunday)
Western Kentucky 59, Kent State 53
Southern Miss 55, Louisiana-Monroe 73
Alabama St. 88, Troy 90
Middle Tennessee 46, No. 6 Kentucky 68

DECEMBER 10 (Monday)
Jackson St. 57, Louisiana-Lafayette 68
Florida Atlantic 73, Wisconsin 82

Upcoming Games

DECEMBER 11 (Tuesday)
Louisiana-Monroe at No. 12/16Texas - 7:00 PM

DECEMBER 13 (Thursday)
UCF at FIU - 5:00 PM
New Orleans at Louisiana-Lafayette - 7:00 PM

DECEMBER 15 (Saturday)
Stetson at Florida Atlantic - 1:00 PM
Arkansas State at Missouri St. - 2:00 PM
Alabama at Troy - 2:00 PM
Dartmouth at FIU - 5:00 PM

DECEMBER 16 (Sunday)
SE Missouri St. at Western Kentucky - 2:00 PM

DECEMBER 17 (Monday)
UC Riverside at Louisiana-Lafayette - 7:00 PM
Louisiana-Monroe at SMU - 7:00 PM
Austin Peay at Arkansas State - 7:05 PM

Team News and Notes

UALR Trojans
UALR (8-1) is off to its best start in school history after knocking off Memphis for the first time in eight attempts Friday in Memphis. Leading from the opening, UALR has not trailed in three games in the month of December. The Trojans last deficit came with 17:40 left in the first half when they trailed Troy 5-4 on Nov. 29. In its eight wins on the season, UALR has only tailed a total of 7:40. Having held opponents under 30% shooting from the field in 4 of the last 5 contests, UALR is now second in the nation with a 29.8 percent field goal defense. Facing the seventh-leading scorer in the nation in Nicole Dickson (23.3 points per game) Friday at Memphis, UALR held her to a season-low 10 points. At tip-off, UALR has faced four individuals averaging 15+ points per game. The Trojans have held said players to 38 points (9.5 average) for the game. UALR has faced five Conference USA opponents on the season and won every game by an average of 14.4 points. It wraps up C-USA play on Dec. 18 when it takes on Tulsa for the second time this season.

Arkansas State Red Wolves
Arkansas State earned its first home victory over the season with a 58-51 victory over Central Arkansas on Dec. 8 at the Convocation Center. The Red Wolves have now won two out of their last three games and improved their record to 2-6 on the year. The Red Wolves will travel to Missouri State on Saturday to renew a series with the Lady Bears. ASU leads the all-time series 5-2 with the last meeting between the two schools coming in the 2011-12 season when the Lady Bears earned just their victory all-time in the series with a 77-68 win in Jonesboro. Sophomore Jasmine Hunt has enjoyed back-to-back career nights on the courts in her last two games. She scored a career-high eight points at FAU on Dec. 1 and then hit the mark again on Dec. 8 at home against Central Arkansas. Hunt was efficient in the first half against the Sugar Bears' going 3-of-5 from the field and scoring eight points in just six minutes of action. A-Stat e has continued to get impressive performances out of its bench this season. In all eight of the Red Wolves' games this season, the bench has scored at least 10 points and has only been outscored twice this season. A big reason for ASU's success off the bench has been junior Carlisha Wyatt, who is third on the team in scoring with 8.3 points per game. Wyatt scored all 10 points; all in the second half, against UCA to help A-State earn the seven point win over the Sugar Bears' this past Saturday. Senior Q McDowell is one steal away from moving into a tie for 13th place on ASU's all-time career steals list. McDowell has registered 10 steals on the year to give 152 over her four-year career.

Florida Atlantic Owls
Florida Atlantic had a last-second shot to win two games against teams from major Division I conferences. The Owls dropped a one-point 59-58 game at Mississippi State on Friday, December 7 before falling 82-73 in overtime at Wisconsin on Monday, December 10. Against Mississippi State, freshman guard Morgan Robinson missed a three-point field goal with two seconds left.  Then against Wisconsin junior guard Takia Brooks' 15-foot jumper rimmed out at the buzzer. FAU stands 5-4 on the season and will put its perfect 3-0 home record on the line against Stetson on Saturday, December 15 at 2 p.m. Brooks scored a career-high 27 points in the loss against Mississippi State, while senior guard Breana Turner had a season-high 25 points against the Badgers to lead the offensive attack.

FIU Panthers
The Panthers have hit 80.5 percent of their free throws this season to lead the Sun Belt and rank fourth in the nation in free throw percentage. FIU ranks second in the Sun Belt Conference and 30th in the nation in blocked shots, as the Panthers are averaging 5.3 blocks per game. Individually, junior Jerica Coley leads the SBC in blocks (2.57 bpg) and ranks 25th in the nation in the category. The Panthers have out-rebounded the opposition in five of seven games this season, as they lead the Sun Belt Conference and rank 25th in the nation in rebounding margin (+9.1). 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 second in the Sun Belt and 31st in the nation in scoring (19.7 ppg). Junior Jerica Coley earned her fifth-career SBC Playe r 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
Louisiana returns to Earl K. Long Gym to host Jackson State on Monday, Dec. 10 at 7:00 p.m. and New Orleans on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 7:00 p.m. The Ragin' Cajuns dropped a 71-59 decision to Sun Belt Conference foe North Texas in Denton, Texas on Dec. 1. With the loss, Louisiana fell 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 her third double double, scoring 10 points and grabbing eight rebounds in just 12 minutes of action. Sylvana Okde contributed 10 points, her fifth double-figures scoring game this season. The teams have met only once when Jackson State beat the Cajuns, 67-51, in 1991. Four Cajuns average double-digits in scoring and leading the way is freshman guard Sylvana Okde's 13.0 points per game. Fellow freshman Kia Wilridge is second on the team in scoring, aver aging 11.1 points to go along with 4.9 rebounds. Her 4.2 steals per game is tied for 11th in the nation. Keke Veal and Ashley Benjamin contribute 10.8 and 10.7 points per game, respectively. Byronesha Santiago leads the squad in rebounding, posting a 7.8 average to go along with 9.7 points.

Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks
Mona Martin coached her 500th game with ULM on at UALR on Dec. 1... Jasmine Shaw scored a career-high 27 points in the 73-55 win over Southern Miss as ULM collected its first home win of the season... the Warhawks led by as many as 27 as Southern Miss shot just above 30% and went on nearly a nine-minute scoring drought to allow ULM to run away with the Sunday afternoon matinee... the program is four wins away from 600 all-time victories... Mona Martin needs six wins for 250 and ULM is four home wins away from 300 inside Fant-Ewing Coliseum... Ashleigh Simmons continues to put up solid rebounding numbers as she pulled down 58 this season (7.3 per game), which is tied for sixth in the Sun Belt.

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Middle Tennessee (6-4) closed a daunting non-conference slate with a 2-1 record last week. The Blue Raiders picked up a 70-56 win over Austin Peay and a 63-48 victory against Xavier before dropping a 68-46 contest to No. 7/6 Kentucky on Sunday. MT used a balanced scoring attack as Kortni Jones led all scorers with 17 points. Ebony Rowe reached a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds. The Blue Raiders saw a crowd of 10,107 attend the Murphy Center in a Tuesday day game affair for the second largest crowd in school history. On Thursday, the Raiders continued their momentum with a 63-48 win over Xavier. A 21-6 run to end the game helped Middle Tennessee capture its 14th consecutive win at the Murphy Center – the streak is tied for 10th in the NCAA. Rowe once again registered a double-double with 24 points, grabbing 14 rebounds. Janay Brinkley set a career-high with 10 points against the Musketeers. Sunday&rsquo ;s task proved to be daunting as Kentucky forced 33 Blue Raider turnovers and won the contest, 63-48. Icelyn Elie and Rowe each had double-doubles. Elie totaled 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Rowe registered 19 points and 10 boards. The double-double by Rowe moved her into a tie with Priscilla Robinson for the school's all-time career mark of 38. MT is averaging 5,603 inside the Murphy Center with four home games played. This season, the Blue Raiders have played in seven games with attendances of 3,000 or more. Coach Rick Insell is just two games away from tying Lewis Bivens all-time win total of 182 victories. MT takes an 11 day break from the hardwood to wrap up the fall semester. The Raiders return to Sun Belt Conference play with FIU on Thursday, Dec. 20.

North Texas Mean Green
After falling just short of a historic victory for the Mean Green at Oklahoma, North Texas gets a breather before hosting UTA in Denton on Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. NT put down UTA 66-47 in last season's opener to even the overall series at 20-20. Junior guard Laura McCoy has knocked down 89 career 3-pointers in her career. Her ranged shooting is good for sole possession of 5th all-time in North Texas history after knocking down two against OU. She also is posting a .405 3-point shooting percentage this season, a mark that, if held, would put her at the top of the charts in North Texas history. Freshmen Loryn Goodwin and Alexis Hyder rank third and seventh in the Sun Belt in steals per game. Goodwin is averaging 3.2 per game while Hyder is stealing the ball 2.4 times per game. Laura McCoy is tied for 11th in the conference at 2.1 giving the Mean Green three of the top 11 thieves in the Sun Belt.Eight players for the Mean Green av erage seven points or more including four players above 12 points per game. The four top players, McCoy, Hyder, Goodwin and sophomore BreAnna Dawkins are responsible for 61 percent of the Mean Green's points.

South Alabama Jaguars
After dropping its two games last week, South Alabama bounced back with a 2-0 mark this week, picking up wins over Spring Hill (86-52) and Sam Houston State (71-61). USA opened up the week with a 34-point win over cross-town rival Spring Hill on Tuesday.  With the win over SHC, South Alabama is now 27-3 all-time in the series and have won 14 straight.  USA head coach Rick Pietri also improved to 5-0 versus the Badgers.  The Jaguars are also now 39-5 all-time versus members from the Southern States Athletic Conference.  The 86 points versus SHC eclipsed the previous season-best of 83 set back in the season-opener at Houston Baptist.  Junior forward Ronneka Robertson recorded her first career double-double with a career-high in both points (13) and rebounds (11).  Robertson has posted six or more rebounds in seven of her nine games this season.  The 21 assists were the most for the Jaguars since recording 21 last season versus the Badgers.  The 10 three-pointers marked the third time this season that USA has finished with 10 or more three-pointers in a game. On Saturday, the Lady Jags rallied back from a 33-30 halftime deficit to defeat the Bearkats and improve to 4-0 at the Mitchell Center.  The three-point deficit at the half marked just the third time this season that South Alabama has trailed at the break and was the first time USA has rallied from a halftime deficit to pick up the win.  With the win, South Alabama improves to 2-1 in the all-time series over Sam Houston State.  USA is now 47-19 all-time versus Southland Conference members, while Pietri is 16-1 against the league.  Mansa El set new career-highs in both assists with eight and rebounds with nine.  Veronica Cherizol also set a new career mark in rebounds with 12.  With her eight rebounds versus SHST, Robertson has now posted six or more boards in nine of her last 1 0 games.  The 48 rebounds by the Lady Jags versus the Bearkats were a season-best.  The 11 three-pointers in the game marked the fourth time this season that USA has recorded double-digits from beyond the arc.  USA entered the game versus SHST shooting just 58.3 percent at the foul line, but was 14-for-19 at the stripe in the win for 73.7 percent. The Lady Jags will now break for 11 days for finals before returning to action versus Central Florida in Orlando on Dec. 19.

Troy Trojans
The Trojans (2-6, 0-2) split a pair of non-conference games this week, falling at Florida before defeating Alabama State at home.  Troy defeated the Hornets, 90-88, thanks to Kourtney Coleman's buzzer-beating layin. Despite the two losses, the Trojans are averaging 80.0 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, second in the league, and averages 25.6 free throw attempts per game, first in the league. Troy is shooting 40.5 percent from the field as a team, the second best mark in the conference, while Troy's 31.7 3-point field goal percentage is third best in the conference.  Troy also leads the league with 43.9 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 plays just one game, hosting Alabama on Saturday at Trojan Arena.  Troy last hosted an SEC team in 1997-98, defeating Mississippi State, 72-69, in that season's opener at Sartain Hall. The game against Alabama is the second of three against SEC opponents this month.  The last time Troy played three SEC opponents was the 1997-98 season (Mississippi State – twice, Auburn).  Troy last played three "power conference" teams in a season in 2004-05 (Mississippi State, Providence, Vanderbilt).

WKU Hilltoppers
WKU is now 7-2 on the season, including a 3-0 mark in Sun Belt Conference play. The Lady Toppers' record of 7-2 is their best since starting the 2005-06 season with a 9-1 mark. WKU is 3-0 in Sun Belt Conference play and stand at the top of the league standings. 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. The Lady Toppers have now won five road games this season, matching their combined total from the last two seasons. It is the most for WKU since winning nine road games in 2009-10. WKU has won five road games to start the season for the first time since the 1994-95 season when the Lady Toppers won six straight road games to start the season. It is the sixth five-game streak in program history to open the season. WKU is now 3-0 on the road in non-conference play. It is the first time WKU has won three non-conference road games since 2009-10 and the fifth time they have reached the mark in the last 15 seasons. Sophomore Chasity Gooch (Franklin, Ky.) had 15 points and 11 rebounds against Kent State on Sunday. She added four blocks and four steals in 36 minutes. Gooch has a double-double in eight of nine games this season and has scored in double figures in all nine games this season. WKU returns to the floor and home on Dec. 16 against Southeast Missouri State. Season tickets and single game tickets are available through the WKU Ticket Office by calling 270-745-5222 or 1-800-5-BIG-RED. Tickets can also be ordered online at www.wkusports.com.

 

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