Sun Belt Women's Basketball news and notes

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Troy's Joanna Harden, one of the top scoring threats in the country, earned her second Sun Belt Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week award, after averaging 30 points per game last week. Harden led the Trojans in their loss to UL Monroe with 32 points and then again led the Trojans with 28 points in a 12-point win over UL Lafayette. The win over the Cajuns was the first conference win of the season for the Trojans.

The win for Troy snapped an eight-game losing streak as the Trojans turned in one of their better defensive efforts of the season against the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns.

Troy next faces Texas State on Saturday, their only contest of the week.

Arkansas State continues to lead the Sun Belt with a 5-1 record. The Red Wolves split a pair of games last week, dropping a midweek contest to Georgia State before defeating WKU on Saturday. Aundrea Gamble led the way for the Red Wolves in both games. A-State takes on in-state rival UALR on Saturday at 3:05 p.m.

Just below A-State in the standings are five teams tied at 3-2, led by Georgia State, which picked up back-to-back victories this weekend. The Panthers knocked off league-leading A-State, and followed up that victory with a two-point win over UALR, the preseason league favorite. This week the Panthers head out on the road to take on UL Monroe and UL Lafayette.

WKU is one of the other four 3-2 teams. WKU's 11-5 record through 16 games marks the second straight year that WKU has opened with at least 11 wins in its first 16 games after not surpassing nine in any of the previous four seasons and reaching 11 just five times in the last 11 years. A win against the Warhawks would give the Lady Toppers their 12th win in 17 games, making WKU 12-5 or better for the second straight season and for the sixth time in the last 15 seasons.

Week 11 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week

Joanna Harden (Troy, Senior, Guard)
Joanna Harden upped her Sun Belt-leading scoring average as she scored 30.0 per game in Troy's two contests last week. That included 28 points in Troy's Saturday win over UL Lafayette, a team that was the second-ranked scoring defense in the Sun Belt entering the game.  The senior guard nearly had a double-double as she also pulled down nine rebounds to help Troy snap an eight-game losing streak.  Harden started the week with 32 points against UL Monroe, her third 30-point game of the season.  The Pompano Beach, Fla., native went to the line 23 times in the two games, with 20 makes to put her at 108-of-132 on the season.  With at least 12 games still to play, Harden has become just the sixth player in Troy history to make 100 free throws in a season.  Harden is now averaging 24.8 points per game overall and 24.5 per game in Sun Belt play, both tops in the conference.  She entered last weekend as the fifth leading scorer in the NCAA at 24.6 per game, but has since improved that average.

Previous Player of the Week
11.12 - Aundrea Gamble, Arkansas State
11.19 - Chastity Gooch, WKU
11.26 - Aundrea Gamble, Arkansas State
12.03 - Kendra Long, Georgia State
12.10 - Joanna Harden, Troy
12.17 - Ashley Ezeh, Texas State
01.06 - Chastity Gooch, WKU
01.13 - Taylor Gault, UALR

Recent Results

Tuesday, January 14
Georgia State 76, Arkansas State 74 * 7:05 PM

Wednesday, January 15
UALR 39, WKU 65 * 7:00 PM
UT Arlington 60, Texas State 68 * 7:00 PM
UL Lafayette 65, South Alabama 60 * 7:05 PM

Thursday, January 16
UL Monroe 83, Troy 72 * 5:15 PM

Saturday, January 18
UALR 59, Georgia State 61 * 12:00 PM
UL Monroe 70, South Alabama 72 * 2:05 PM
Arkansas State 67, WKU 64 * 4:30 PM
UL Lafayette 75, Troy 87 * 5:15 PM

Upcoming Games

Wednesday, January 22
Troy at UT Arlington * 7:30 PM
Texas State at UALR * TBA
WKU at UL Monroe * TBA

Thursday, January 23
Georgia State at UL Lafayette * 5:00 PM

Saturday, January 25
WKU at UL Lafayette * 2:00 PM
Troy at Texas State * 2:00 PM
UALR at Arkansas State * 3:05 PM
South Alabama at UT Arlington * 5:00 PM
Georgia State at UL Monroe * TBA

Wednesday, January 22
Troy at UT Arlington * 7:30 PM
Texas State at UALR TBA
WKU at UL Monroe * TBA

Thursday, January 23
Georgia State at UL Lafayette * 5:00 PM

Saturday, January 25
WKU at UL Lafayette * 2:00 PM
Troy at Texas State * 2:00 PM
UALR at Arkansas State * 3:05 PM
South Alabama at UT Arlington * 5:00 PM
Georgia State at UL Monroe * TBA

NOTE: All Game times are Central and Subject to Change
* - denotes SBC game

Team News and Notes

UALR Trojans

Joe Foley entered Wednesday's game against WKU using 11 different starting lineups in 14, and he had never used the same starting lineup in three consecutive games. But against the Hilltoppers, the starting lineup of Taylor Ford, Kiera Clark, Shanity James, Taylor Gault and Sharde' Collins opened the contest for the third straight time, and he made it a fourth straight on Saturday at Georgia State.Ten of the team's 12 healthy, eligible players have started a game this season. The only Trojans to start every game this year are Clark and James. UALR is a vastly superior program when playing at home this season, evidenced by its 49.2 points per game average on the road and its 66.6 points per game at home. The Trojans shoot 33.7 percent in road games but a much-better 45.7 percent in home games, and the team also has 104 assists at home versus 88 on the road in two extra games. All told, it adds up to a 6-1 record at the Jack Stephens Center and a 2-7 record elsewhere.

Arkansas State Red Wolves
The Arkansas State women's basketball team took sole possession of first place in the Sun Belt Conference standings after a 1-1 week that included a rare road victory at Western Kentucky. The Red Wolves defeated the Lady Toppers 67-64 this past Saturday. A-State stands at 5-1 in league play through its first six games and have 1.5 game lead on second place. The victory at WKU was the Red Wolves third straight over the Lady Toppers and its fourth win in the last five games with the school. It was also A-State's third straight victory at E.A. Diddle Arena, making it Arkansas State's longest winning streak at Bowling Green in the history of the series. The Red Wolves trailed by eight points in the second half but managed to tie the game with less than five minutes to play and eventually took a lead it would not relinquish. Aundrea Gamble scored 20 points in the victory and Hanna Qedan knocked down two big trey's that ignited the A-State run to victory. Earlier in the week, A-State suffered its conference loss of the year in a 76-74 setback against Georgia State. Despite the loss, Jalen O'Bannon and Qedan both had double-doubles in the game, marking the first time since 2011 that two Arkansas State women's basketball players had double-doubles in the game. In Addition, senior forward Jane Morrill has moved into the school's top-10 for most points in her career with over 1,300 entering this week's games. She has an opportunity to finish among the top-7 on the school's all-time scoring list. Head Coach Brian Boyer continues to inch closer to the all-time mark for most SBC wins. He currently has 128 and needs to just 7 more to tie the record of 135 held by former Louisiana Tech Leon Barrmore. A-State will have just one game this week, a Saturday afternoon tilt with in-state opponent UALR. The game is part of a split doubleheader at the Convocation Center with the women's game slated to begin at 3:05 p.m.

Georgia State Panthers
Georgia State rallied to upset the Sun Belt's only previous unbeaten team on the road (Arkansas State, 76-74) and then rallied to defeat the preseason favorite (UALR) in Atlanta, 61-59. It was the first meeting in school history between both schools. The Tuesday game at Arkansas State was GSU's 11th road game already, but perhaps the solace is that they know they will finish with 7 of the final 11 Sun Belt games at home come February and early March. When Georgia State played UALR, it ended a run of seven weeks and just one home game in that span. The young Panthers have just one senior on the roster, guard Kendra Long. The top scorer is averaging 13.7 per game with 1,100 career points. Long has already made her 200th assist (213) and is closing in on her 200th steal (191) and 200th 3-point basket (198). She is in the top 10 in the CAA in six categories. Junior PG Alisha Andrews is the NCAA's smallest at 4-foot-11, but she has 894 points, 404 assists, 231 steals and 157 3-point baskets to keep everyone aware of her skill set. She leads the CAA in assists (4.8) and assist/turnover ratio and is second in steals. Georgia State's dynamic duo backcourt of senior Long and junior Andrews have combined for 1,994 and will hit 2,000 in the next game on Thursday at Louisiana-Lafayette. They have 617 assists, 418 steals and 624 rebounds. The pair had played in Atlanta Rec leagues, beginning as nine-year olds, but played at different high schools and Andrews spent two years at UNCW before transferring to GSU last year to play this year. When Long makes two more 3-point baskets, she will become the second in school history, joining men's guard Shellord Pinkett, who made 240 from 1994-98. GSU uses its entire roster and has 13 who have played 100 minutes. That's two more players than the next closest school, Texas State (with 11 with 100 minutes). Twelve players have started a game. The Panthers have three players with 20 or more 3-pointers and three players with 30 or more steals. Only one player has started all 16 games (Andrews). By averaging 10.4 steals per game (52) in the five Sun Belt games, GSU has upped its season average to 9.4 steals per game. Yogi Berra always said "it ain't over 'til it's over" and that is the same with a GSU game. The Panthers have won a game by 1 point, three games by 2 points, a game by 3 points and games by 6 and 8 points.

UL Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns women's basketball team returns home after a two-game road trip to Alabama, to take on Georgia State at the Cajundome in the first game of a Ragin' Cajuns basketball doubleheader with the men's program. The Cajuns are coming off of a loss at Troy (87-75) on Saturday, despite a double-double from Brooklyn Arceneaux (18 points, 11 rebounds) and 22 points from Sylvana Okde. Okde paces the Cajuns scoring for the season, averaging 11.9 points through the first 16 games, and has scored 15-or-more points in four of the last five games. Arceneaux has filled in well for the injured Keke Veal, scoring a career-high 19 points against South Alabama and following that up with her double-double against Troy. Sophomore Jasmin Mills leads the team on the glass, grabbing 6.3 rebounds a game. Arceneaux has found her stride in the wake of Keke Veal's injury, posting back-to-back career games. She scored a career-high 19 points against South Alabama and responded against Troy with her first-career double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Arceneaux returned to action this season after redshirting last season, and has played in 15 games, and scored double-digit points four times.

UL Monroe Warhawks
ULM returns home from an Alabama road swing that saw the Warhawks go 1-1 (W, 83-72, at Troy; L, 70-72, at South Alabama)... The Warhawks will first face Western Kentucky on Wednesday night before hosting Georgia State in a Saturday matinee... Against Troy, the Warhawks trailed for just 10 seconds as they used a big first half and late free throws to claim an 11-point win... Two days later ULM saw its three-game win streak come to a close with a narrow two point loss at South Alabama... Alayshia Hunter was big for the Warhawks in the two games as she nearly averaged a double-double with 16.5 ppg and 9.5 rpg... She grabbed a career-best 15 rebounds in the win at Troy.

South Alabama Jaguars
South Alabama returned home this past week and recorded a 1-1 record in Sun Belt play, falling 65-60 to Louisiana-Lafayette on Wednesday, but defeating Louisiana-Monroe Saturday on the Sun Belt Network. The loss to Louisiana-Lafayette snapped a 10-game win streak by South Alabama in the series and was the first for the Ragin' Cajuns against USA since Jan. 27, 2007. It was also the first loss versus ULL in Mobile since the 2005-06 season. The 15 points by junior guard Breanna Hall was a new career-best for the Mesquite, Texas, native, eclipsing her previous mark of 13 set at Southern Miss earlier this season. South Alabama also committed a season-high 30 turnovers versus Louisiana-Lafayette. USA has committed 21 or more turnovers seven times this season. Freshman guard Colby Davis did record a career-high eight assists in the loss to ULL. The eight assists were the most by a Jag in a game since Mansa El's eight versus Sam Houston State on Dec. 8, 2012. With the win over Louisiana-Monroe, the Jaguars snapped a three-game losing streak and evened their Sun Belt record. South Alabama also improved to 12-5 in the all-time series and 7-2 in games played in Mobile. USA has now won three-straight in the series and seven of the last nine dating back to the 2007-08 season. The Jags also improved to 9-16 all-time in televised games. USA's Rachel Cumbo finished one-point shy of tying her career high woth 19 points. She was 8-for-8 at the foul line verus ULM and 14-of-14 in USA's two games this week. Dating back to the end of the first half of the Jaguars' SBC opener versus Western Kentucky, Cumbo has now hit 21-straight free throws. Ronneka Robertson posted her first double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds. All 11 of Robertson's rebounds came on the defensive glass. Defensive rebounds were a key stat for the Jaguars in the game as USA pulled down 29 defensive boards and held ULM to just nine offensive rebounds. The Warhawks had recorded 24 offensive rebounds in its previous game at Troy. The duo of Cumbo and Robertson were a combined 14-of-14 at the foul line. As a team, South Alabama was 22-of-26 at the charity stripe.

UT Arlington Mavericks
UT Arlington fell to Texas State this past week, but senior Desherra Nwanguma scored a season-high 25 points picking up her second double-double of the season as she grabbed 13 rebounds. The Mavericks return home to host Troy Wednesday night and South Alabama Saturday at College Park Center.

Texas State Bobcats
With just one game this past week, the Texas State women's basketball team improved to 3-2 in conference play and 6-10 overall by defeating UT Arlington by a score of 68-60 at Strahan Coliseum. Junior Meghan Braeuer had a career afternoon by scoring a career-high 16 points, all of which came in the second-half of action against the Mavericks. Her previous high was 13 against Louisiana just over a week ago. After going 7-for-8 from the charity stripe, Braeuer moved into the top-10 in the conference play in free-throw percentage at a mark of 85.7. Senior Ashley Ezeh continues to climb the ranks at Texas State, being just two blocks away from having over 1,100 points, 600 rebounds, and 50 blocks. Only three other Bobcats have even achieved that mark. The Bobcats are prepping to travel to UALR Wednesday evening. The Bobcats upset the preseason favorite to start conference play back on January 2 by a score of 42-35.

Troy Trojans
Troy (5-12, 1-5) snapped an eight-game losing streak with an 87-75 win over UL Lafayette on Saturday at Trojan Arena. Troy lost to UL Monroe, 83-72, earlier in the week. The Trojans turned in one of their better defensive efforts of the season against UL Lafayette, holing the Ragin' Cajuns to 29 percent shooting. Troy held the Cajuns without a field goal for over 10 minutes in the first half (26 straight misses) as UL Lafayette shot 22 percent in the first half. The Trojans also outrebounded the Ragin' Cajuns, 53-41; just the third time this season Troy has outrebounded an opponent (3-0 in those games). Troy also posted a season-high nine blocks against the Cajuns. Joanna Harden led Troy in scoring in both games, dropping 32 on UL Monroe and 28 on UL Lafayette. Harden upped her Sun Belt-best scoring average to 24.8 points per game. She is averaging 24.5 per game in Sun Belt play, also tops in the conference. A large part of Harden's scoring is her ability to get to the free throw line. The senior guard leads the Sun Belt in makes and attempts (108-of-132) with nearly 30 more makes and attempts than the next best player. Harden is just the sixth player in Troy history to make 100 free throws in a season. Her 80.1 career free throw percentage would be the best in school history. As a team, Troy is averaging a Sun Belt best 79.8 points per game. The Trojans also rank in the Sun Belt's top three in 3-pointers made (5.7), rebounds (44.2), assists (13.3), blocks (5.1), steals (10.3) and turnover margin (+2.24). The Trojans return to the road this week as they travel to take on Sun Belt newcomers UT Arlington and Texas State. Troy has never played Texas State, but the Trojans and UT Arlington have met one time previously. The Mavericks defeated the Trojans in the 2005 UCF Holiday Classic, 65-54.

WKU Lady Toppers
Chastity Gooch needs 11 points to become the 35th member of WKU's 1,000 point club. Alexis Govan became a member of the club earlier this season… Chastity Gooch needs four rebounds to reach 700 rebounds for her career… Chastity Gooch is set to play her 80th career game this week when WKU faces ULM… WKU has forced an average of 20.2 turnovers per contest in league play… WKU's 11-5 record through 16 games marks the second straight year that WKU has opened with at least 11 wins in its first 16 games after not surpassing nine in any of the previous four seasons and reaching 11 just five times in the last 11 years… A win against ULM would give the Lady Toppers their 12th win in 17 games, making WKU 12-5 or better for the second straight season and for the sixth time in the last 15 seasons.