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Sun Belt Conference Women's Basketball news and notes

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From the Sun Belt Conference

Sun Belt Conference Weekly News and Notes (Week 12)
2012-13 Sun Belt Conference Media Guide
2012-13 Sun Belt Conference Composite Schedule
2012-13 Sun Belt Conference Standings
2012-13 Sun Belt Conference Statistics

Week 12 Sun Belt Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week

Alexis Govan (Western Kentucky, Sophomore, Guard)
WKU sophomore guard Alexis Govan averaged a double-double (20.5 points and 10.0 rebounds), helping the Lady Toppers to home wins over Louisiana-Lafayette and UALR this past week. In the win over the Ragin' Cajuns, Govan posted 25 points and a career-high 14 boards for her second consecutive double-double. She finished 12-for-20 from the field (60 percent) against ULL, adding a block and two steals to her scoring and rebounding totals. She followed that effort with 16 points and six rebounds against UALR. In 31 minutes against the Trojans, Govan added three assists and three steals to her stat line. For the week, Govan shot 52.9 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from three. She has now scored in double figures in 21 straight games dating back to last 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)
12.11 - Ebony Rowe (Middle Tennessee, Junior, Forward)
12.18 - Jerica Coley (FIU, Junior, Guard)
01.07 - Alexis Govan (Western Kentucky, Sophomore, Guard)
01.14 - Ebony Rowe (Middle Tennessee, Junior, Forward)

Around the Sun Belt Conference
UALR is currently on a four-game losing streak, matching the longest under head coach Joe Foley since a six-game skid in February of 2005. UALR's 70-61 loss to Western Kentucky Saturday (Jan. 19) was the first time all season UALR has not led after halftime against an opponent.

Arkansas State won its fourth consecutive game and moved into a tie for first place in SBC West Division with a 71-58 victory over Louisiana-Monroe on Sunday afternoon. The Red Wolves are now have a 9-9 overall record on the year and at .500 for the first time this season.

Florida Atlantic earned two double digit victories to improve to 10-7 and 7-2 in SBC play. The Owls stand in third place in the East Division. FAU has the longest home conference winning streak at 11 games, following Saturday's 79-67 win over North Texas. Earlier in the week the team picked up a 74-63 triumph over Troy.

FIU's Jerica Coley has now scored in double-figures in 17 of 18 games this season and in 74 of 84 career contests. The 2013 All-America candidate netted 33 points against Troy on Saturday, marking her 10th 20-plus, point outing the campaign and her sixth, 30-plus point performance. Against Troy, junior Jerica Coley eclipsed the 1,700-career point plateau and now has 1,724 points for her career. Head Coach Cindy Russo's 681 career victories rank ninth among active Division I coaches and 16th on the all-time winningest coaches list.

The Ragin' Cajuns close out January with back-to-back Wednesday evening home games at Earl K. Long Gym. The FIU-NT homestand opens a stretch in which six of the next eight games will be played in Lafayette. The Cajuns played their final road game of January last Saturday at Middle Tennessee and doesn't step on an opponent's home court until Saturday, Feb. 2 at Troy. ULL's Sylvana Okde is on pace for 81 three-point field goals made, which would land in the program's all-time, single-season Top 5 list. The last Cajuns player to convert 80-plus three-point field goals was Rhonda McCullough back in 1989-90.

ULM concluded its week with a loss at Arkansas State, despite a late comeback effort in the second half. The Warhawks have lost nine of the last 10 contests. ULM led by as many as 13 at South Alabama on Wednesday but a 31-4 run by the Lady Jags would doom the Warhawks as they fell, 61-51. Ashleigh Simmons collected her second consecutive double-double and fourth of the season with 14 points and a career-high 13 rebounds.

Middle Tennessee extended its season-long win streak with wins over UALR and Louisiana-Lafayette last week. The Blue Raiders toppled the Trojans, 65-56, before knocking off the Ragin' Cajuns 72-36 on Saturday. Ebony Rowe set her career-high for the second consecutive game with 35 points against UALR. The junior added a season-best 17 rebounds in the win over UALR. Middle Tennessee has won a school-record 11 consecutive conference road games dating back to last season.

Until the FIU game, North Texas had not won a game all season in which it trailed going into the second half. It was the program's first win after being down at the end of the first half since 11/12/11 against SMU. The Mean Green has five wins in the month in January, which is the most wins for the program in the month of January since 2005-06.

South Alabama picked up a victory in its lone game this past week, rallying from a 13-point first-half deficit to defeat Louisiana-Monroe 61-51 on Wednesday. With the win, South Alabama improved to 11-5 in the all-time series with the Warhawks – 9-4 under head coach Rick Pietri. The 50-rebound game was the first for USA since snagging 56 in last season's first round Sun Belt tournament win over Arkansas State.

The Troy Trojans traveled to Florida Atlantic and FIU last week, dropping both contests, but seeing much improvement during the week. Troy had 31 turnovers in a 74-63 loss to FAU on Wednesday, but turned it around, turning the ball over just 13 times in a near upset of FIU, 82-76. The Trojans are still the highest scoring team in the Sun Belt at 74.6 points per game, despite the team's overall record. Troy is also the league's top rebounding team at 42.7 boards per game. Individually, Harden (12.5 ppg) leads three Trojans averaging double-figure scoring. Ashley Beverly-Kelley is just behind (12.0 ppg) and is the third leading scoring freshman in the Sun Belt.

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

Recent Results

January 16 (Wednesday)
Troy 63, Florida Atlantic 74
UALR 56, Middle Tennessee 65
Louisiana-Lafayette 64, Western Kentucky 75
Louisiana-Monroe 51, South Alabama 61

January 17 (Thursday)
North Texas 70, FIU 68

January 19 (Saturday)
North Texas 67, Florida Atlantic 79
UALR 61, Western Kentucky 70
Louisiana-Lafayette 36, Middle Tennessee 72
Troy 76, FIU 82

January 20 (Sunday)
Louisiana-Monroe 58, Arkansas State 71

Upcoming Games

January 23 (Wednesday)
FIU at Louisiana-Lafayette 7:00 PM
Florida Atlantic at UALR 7:00 PM
Western Kentucky at South Alabama 7:05 PM

January 24 (Thursday)
Middle Tennessee at North Texas 5:00 PM
Arkansas State at Troy 5:15 PM

January 26 (Saturday)
Troy at Louisiana-Monroe 2:00 PM
Florida Atlantic at Arkansas State 3:05 PM
UALR at North Texas 5:00 PM

January 27 (Sunday)
Western Kentucky at Middle Tennessee 2:00 PM
FIU at South Alabama 2:05 PM

Team News and Notes

UALR Trojans
UALR is currently on a four-game losing streak, matching the longest under head coach Joe Foley since a six-game skid in February of 2005. UALR's 70-61 loss to Western Kentucky Saturday (Jan. 19) was the first time all season UALR has not led after halftime against an opponent. With 11 points Saturday, sophomore Kiera Clark finishes the season with 31 points on 13-17 shooting against the Hilltoppers. UALR held Western Kentucky's Chastity Gooch to only seven rebounds, the first Sun Belt Conference team to hold her to under double-digit rebounds. The Trojans are one of only six teams in the SBC with assists on more than half of their baskets. UALR is second in the conference behind ULM with an assist on 247-of-445 of its baskets (55.5 percent). Clark has three double-digit scoring games of the season with three coming against Western Kentucky. A freshman has reached double-digit scoring in the last three games, but Saturday at Western Kentucky with Shanity James and Jakeisha Wells was the first time two freshmen reached 10+ points. Before the last three games, a freshman had scored double-digits only three previous times in the first 15 games. Florida Atlantic visits the Jack Stephens Center Wednesday (Jan. 23), who UALR currently has a seven-game winning streak against. In fact, FAU is one of two SBC schools who UALR has not lost to (Troy is 0-10 against UALR). In fact, the Trojans will wrap up half of their SBC regular-season series before it plays Arkansas State for the first time on Feb. 13.

Arkansas State Red Wolves
The Arkansas State women's basketball team won its fourth straight and moved into a tie for first place in Sun Belt Conference West Division with a 71-58 victory over Louisiana-Monroe on Sunday afternoon. The Red Wolves held ULM to just 37.7 shooting from the field and the Warhawks were just 3-of-15 from beyond the arc on the afternoon. The Red Wolves are now have a 9-9 overall record on the year and at .500 for the first time this season. Sophomore Hanna Qedan scored 17 points in the victory over ULM and tied a career high with three, 3-pointers on the afternoon. Entering Sunday's matchup, the Red Wolves owned the nation's second best 3-point field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to a 22.6 average on the year. ASU had the 62nd toughest schedule in the nation, and the toughest of any Sun Belt team, according to the latest RPI report from the NCAA. According to RealTimeRPI.com, the Red wolves own the nation's 73rd most difficult schedule. Q McDowell extended her consecutive games started streak to 93 on Sunday. A-State went 6-for-11 from beyond the arc against the Warhawks and extended its consecutive games with a 3-pointer made streak to 107.

Florida Atlantic Owls
Florida Atlantic earned two double digit victories to improve to 10-7 and 7-2 in Sun Belt Conference play. The Owls stand in third place in the East Division. FAU has the longest home conference winning streak at 11 games, following Saturday's 79-67 win over North Texas. Earlier in the week the team picked up a 74-63 triumph over Troy. Junior forward Chenise Miller averaged a double-double in the two games, tallying 22 points and matching a career high with 14 rebounds against the Mean Green. She leads the SBC with 39 blocks, seventh in scoring at 14.8 points and fifth with 7.8 rebounds per game. FAU ranks eighth nationally in turnover margin (+7.0) and leads the conference with 12.6 steals per game. The team had a season-high 21 assists against North Texas. Offensively, the team ranks second in the Sun Belt scoring 73.1 points a game. The scoring is spread through three double-digit scorers. After Miller's 14.8 average, senior guard Breana Turner is scoring at an 11.7-point clip and junior guard Takia Brooks is scoring 10.9 points per contest. FAU begins a two-game road trip, beginning at UALR on Wednesday, January 23 at 8 p.m. The Owls will also battle Arkansas State on Saturday, January 26 at 6 p.m. on a game featured on the Sun Belt Network. FAU defeated Arkansas State 79-71 on December 1 in Boca Raton.

FIU Panthers
Junior Jerica Coley has now scored in double-figures in 17 of 18 games this season and in 74 of 84 career contests. The 2013 All-America candidate netted 33 points against Troy on Saturday, marking her 10th 20-plus, point outing the campaign and her sixth, 30-plus point performance. Against Troy, junior Jerica Coley eclipsed the 1,700-career point plateau and now has 1,724 points for her career. Coley went 19-of-23 from the free throw line versus the Trojans, as the 19 free throws made and 23 free throws attempted each establish new single-game school records. Junior Marita Davydova notched her second-straight and seventh-career double-double versus Troy on Saturday, posting a career-high-tying 18 points and a game-high 11 boards. On Thursday, against North Texas, Davydova registered a then-career-high-tying 18 points and a career-high-tying 15 rebounds. The 82 points scored against Troy on Saturday mark a season-best for the Panthers, as did the 32 free throws made and 42 free throws attempted. Against North Texas on Thursday, FIU dished out a season-high 19 assists. Head Coach Cindy Russo's 681 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 close out January with back-to-back Wednesday evening home games at Earl K. Long Gym…First up is a rematch with FIU on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at Earl K. Long Gym at 7 p.m. (FIU posted a 63-47 victory on Jan. 5 in Miami)…January concludes on Wednesday, Jan. 30 against North Texas, with the Cajuns and Mean Green completing their Sun Belt home-and-home at 7 p.m. that evening in Earl K. Long Gym (NT won 71-59 in Denton on Dec. 1)…The FIU-NT homestand opens a stretch in which six of the next eight games will be played in Lafayette…The Cajuns played their final road game of January last Saturday at Middle Tennessee and doesn't step on an opponent's home court until Saturday, Feb. 2 at Troy…UL fell to 0-2 in rematches in this season's double round-robin Sun Belt format (ASU and MT)…Robbie Brown finished as the Cajuns leading scorer for the first time this season and first time in her career and Lafayette High product Adrienne Prejean registered a career-high nine rebounds (previous best was seven vs. South Alabama on Jan. 9) against the Blue Raiders…Robbie Brown's nine points moved her past 100 for the season – her second straight season with 100-plus points…Keke Veal dished out five assists for the second straight outing, picking up the void left by Kia Wilridge missing the contest (missed WKU-MT trip with shoulder injury)…Despite not arriving in Bowling Green until game day due to weather delays in airport travel, the Cajuns gave co-SBC East leader Western Kentucky all they could handle on Wednesday, leading by as many as 11 points in the second half (49-38 at 13:27) and 55-54 with 7:42 left…WKU rallied and snuck out a 75-64 win in Diddle Arena…The Cajuns knocked down 50 percent of their three-point attempts (10-of-20) at WKU with a team-high six triples coming from Sylvana Okde…The WKU performance marked the eighth time this season that Sylvana Okde made at least three 3-pointers in a contest…Sylvana Okde is on pace for 81 three-point field goals made, which would land in the program's all-time, single-season Top 5 list…The last Cajuns player to convert 80-plus three-point field goals was Rhonda McCullough back in 1989-90…Okde continues to lead the Sun Belt Conference in three-point field goals made per game (2.6)…Louisiana is 5-4 at home in Garry Brodhead's inaugural season (4-3 Earl K. Long Gym/1-1 Cajundome)… The freshman class of Sylvana Okde (11.3), Keke Veal (10.8), Kia Wilridge (9.1), Jasmin Mills (4.3) and Adrienne Prejean (1.4) – the foundation class on which Garry Brodhead plans to rebuild the program – averages 36.9 points per game (65 percent of the team's offensive production).

Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks
ULM concluded its week with a loss at Arkansas State, despite a late comeback effort in the second half. The Warhawks have lost nine of the last 10 contests. ULM led by as many as 13 at South Alabama on Wednesday but a 31-4 run by the Lady Jags would doom the Warhawks as they fell, 61-51. Ashleigh Simmons collected her second consecutive double-double and fourth of the season with 14 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. Jae Shin connected on her only three-point attempt against the Lady Jags and is 11-22 during the past five games, including four triples at North Texas. Simmons recorded 12 points in just 25 minutes at Arkansas State and has now scored in double figures in eight straight contests. Jasmine Shaw also chipped in 12 against the Red Wolves to share the team high. Shaw also recorded a career-high six steals at ASU on Sunday. Seven Warhawks have led ULM in scoring this season. At #18 Texas on Dec. 11, ULM attempted 41 free throws, it was the first time the squad tallied 40 or more FTs in a single game since Dec. 21, 1999 (W, 66-65 vs. New Orleans). The Warhawks return home Saturday, Jan. 26, for an afternoon contest against Troy. The Warhawk program is three wins away from 600 all-time victories. Mona Martin needs five wins for 250 and ULM is four home wins away from 300 inside Fant-Ewing Coliseum. The next Sun Belt victory will the program's 50th.

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Middle Tennessee (13-5, 7-1 Sun Belt) extended its season-long win streak with wins over UALR and Louisiana last week. The Blue Raiders toppled Trojans, 65-56, before knocking off the Ragin' Cajuns 72-36 on Saturday. Ebony Rowe set her career-high for the second consecutive game with 35 points against UALR. The junior added a season-best 17 rebounds in the win over UALR. Icelyn Elie paced the Raiders with 20 points in MT's win over the Cajuns. Lewisburg native Lauren March set a new career-high with 13 points, while Kortni Jones also had 13. Janiece Johnson set a career-high with eight rebounds against UL. Ebony Rowe extended her double-figure scoring streak to 26 games, which ranks sixth nationally. Middle Tennessee is 26-3 all-time when Rowe scores 20 or more points. Rowe holds the school record with 43 double-doubles and has 1,459 points in her career. The junior paces the Blue Raiders with 21.7 points, 11 rebounds and a 56 percent shooting. Coming into the weekend, Rowe ranked fifth in scoring, 12th in rebounds and 22nd in field goal percentage. The Raiders also have two other 1,000-point scorers in Icelyn Elie and Kortni Jones. Elie is second on the team with 14.2 points, while Jones third with 12.8 points per game. Middle Tennessee has won a school-record 11 consecutive conference road games dating back to last season. The Blue Raiders visit North Texas in a scheduled double-header on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 5 p.m. before hosting rival Western Kentucky in an ESPN3 broadcast at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 27.

North Texas Mean Green
Until the FIU game, North Texas had not won a game all season in which it trailed going into the second half. It was the program's first win after being down at the end of the first half since 11/12/11 against SMU. The Mean Green has five wins in the month in January, which is the most wins for the program in the month of January since 2005-06. The school record for most wins in the month of January is seven set during the 1985-86 season. Freshman Loryn Goodwin notched a career-high 25 points against FAU. It was the most points by a player since Tamara Torru scored 26 in 2011. It was Goodwin's first 20-point game in her career. Alexis Hyder a career-high 20 points in the win over FIU, her first 20-point game. 19 of her 20 points were scored in the second half and she scored the game winning basket in the final seconds of the game. North Texas picked up its second straight road win with a win over FIU. North Texas was 0-7 until winning two straight over UALR and FIU.

South Alabama Jaguars
South Alabama picked up a victory in its lone game this past week, rallying from a 13-point first-half deficit to defeat Louisiana-Monroe 61-51 on Wednesday. With just over six minutes remaining in the opening period of play, USA ended the first 20 minutes of play on a 16-2 run and began the final period on a 15-2 spurt. From the 6:12 mark of the first half to the 12:17 mark of the second, the Jaguars outscored ULM 31-4. With the win, South Alabama improved to 11-5 in the all-time series with the Warhawks – 9-4 under head coach Rick Pietri. Redshirt freshman Rachel Cumbo – who missed all of the 2011-12 season and the first 17 games of this season after suffering a pair of knee injuries – dressed out for the first time in her collegiate career versus ULM. Senior guard Mary Nixon left the game in the first half after suffering a concussion. She will be reevaluated this week. The 61 points by the Lady Jags versus Louisiana-Monroe marked the first time USA has scored 60 or more points since scoring 71 versus Sam Houston State on Dec. 8. The 50-rebound game was the first for USA since snagging 56 in last season's first round Sun Belt tournament win over Arkansas State. South Alabama also had 20 offensive rebounds since pulling down 22 versus Southern Miss back on Nov. 16. Mansa El tied a career-high with her nine rebounds versus ULM. Ronneka Robertson also carded her fourth double-figure rebounding game of the season with 11 rebounds.

Troy Trojans
The Trojans (3-14, 0-8) traveled to Florida Atlantic and FIU last week, dropping both contests, but seeing much improvement during the week. Troy had 31 turnovers in a 74-63 loss to FAU on Wednesday, but turned it around, turning the ball over just 13 times in a near upset of FIU, 82-76. Head coach Chanda Rigby was pleased with Troy's performance against FIU saying it was likely their best game of the year. In the game at FIU, Joanna Harden took over for Troy, scoring 33 points with 24 in the second half. She went bucket-for-bucket with Preseason Player of the Year Jerica Coley, who also had 33 points. Coley's points came largely at the free throw line where she was 19-of-23. Troy as a team was 16-of-20. Despite playing well against the Panthers, the Trojans are still in the midst of a seven-game losing streak and they remain the only winless team in Sun Belt play. Troy is on the verge though, four of their eight Sun Belt losses have been by six points or less. However, the Trojans are still the highest scoring team in the Sun Belt at 74.6 points per game. Troy is also the league's top rebounding team at 42.7 boards per game. Individually, Harden (12.5 ppg) leads three Trojans averaging double-figure scoring. Ashley Beverly-Kelley is just behind (12.0 ppg) and is the third leading scoring freshman in the Sun Belt. Sarah McAppion has been a model of consistency for the Trojans, shooting 51.8 percent (57-of-110) overall (fifth in the SBC) and 81.8 percent (36-of-44) from the line (third in the SBC). She is the only player in the conference's top five in both of those categories. For her career, the senior Australia native shoots 44.3 percent overall, 35.2 percent from deep and 73.8 percent from the free throw line. She is the only player in the Sun Belt shooting over 40.0 percent, 35.0 percent and 70.0 percent in those categories, respectively. This week, Troy returns home for a Thursday meeting with Arkansas State in Trojan Arena before traveling to play at ULM on Saturday.

WKU Hilltoppers
The Lady Toppers have now won three in a row and 10 of their last 11 after a pair of home wins over Louisiana-Lafayette (75-64) and UALR (70-61) this past week. It is the third time this year that WKU has strung together a streak of three or more consecutive wins. WKU has won consecutive games against UALR for the first time since wins in 2006-07 and 2007-08. It also picked up its first win over the Trojans in Bowling Green since 2007-08. WKU is 15-3 on the year – its best start to a since the 1994-95 season when it was 17-1 to begin the year. It is the sixth time in program history that WKU has started the year 15-3 or better. WKU reached the 15-win mark in the month of January for the first time since the 2007-08 season when WKU won its 15th game on Jan. 24, 2008 in a win at New Orleans. WKU is 8-1 or better in Sun Belt Conference play for the seventh time in program history but just the third time in the last 16 seasons. The Lady Toppers had just 10 turnovers against UALR, the lowest output since having just nine against Vanderbilt earlier this season. Alexis Govan has scored in double figures in all 18 games this season and in 21 consecutive games overall. She now has 25 career double-figure scoring game. She is one of just seven players in the country with a streak of 21 straight games or more in double figures. Baylor's Brittney Griner leads the nation in the category. Junior Bianca McGee scored 20 or more points in both games this week, giving her three straight 20-point games. McGee has scored in double figures in 8-of-9 games in a WKU uniform.

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