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UALR stops Middle Tennessee

by Troy Schulte | February 17, 2013 at 2:40 a.m.
UALR guard Taylor Ford drives to the basket during the Trojans victory over Middle Tennessee

— The UALR women’s basketball team carried a six game winning streak into Saturday afternoon’s matchup with Middle Tennessee at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock.

Winning six in a row was nice, but a seventh consecutive victory, over the Sun Belt Conference’s overall leader, was what the Trojans really needed.

It didn’t come easily.

UALR (18-7, 10-6) got 16 points and six rebounds from Taylor Ford, but it was UALR’s defense that led the way, holding the Blue Raiders (18-7, 13-3) to nine points over the final 10 minutes of a 51-43 victory.

The Trojans still trail Arkansas State, which won at Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday, by a half-game in the Sun Belt West Division standings.

“It shows how much, defensively, we’re growing up, knowing what we want to take away,” UALR Coach Joe Foley said. “Offensively, we’ve got a long way to go.”

That was especially evident at the start. The Trojans committed four turnovers in the first four minutes and fell into a 12-point hole less than 10 minutes into the game.

But a short run at the end of the first half, and eight consecutive points early in the second, got the Trojans on even terms before they slowly pulled away.

The victory was the seventh in succession for UALR since Foley shifted the team’s focus to defense for a Jan. 23 victory over Florida Atlantic. Heading into that game, the Trojans had lost four consecutive games and 6 of 7.

Foley’s team continued its strong defensive play Saturday, holding Middle Tennessee to 29.6 percent shooting in the second half and a season-low point total.

Along the way, the Trojans held all-conference forward Ebony Rowe to 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting.

Rowe, who had 35 points and 17 rebounds in Middle Tennessee’s 65-56 home victory over UALR on Jan. 16, didn’t score over the final seven minutes.

“You better try to stop Rowe inside,” Foley said. “If she gets up to 25, 35 points, their team gets rolling pretty good.”

UALR never let Middle Tennessee get going even during the sloppy first few minutes.

Five of UALR’s first six possessions ended without points and after Rowe scored inside with 10:29 left, the Blue Raiders’ lead was 17-6.

But Morgan Bolton made a three-pointer at 9:26, and Ford later made two free throws as UALR outscored Middle Tennessee 10-2 to trail 22-17at halftime.

Ford made two threes to open the second half, and her two free throws with 15:31 to play capped an 8-0 stretch that gave UALR a 28-25 lead.

Ford’s layup off a steal gave the Trojans a 33-32 lead with 10:25 left, and the teams traded the lead seven times over the next four minutes.

But the Trojans, sparked by Carolee Dillard’s jumper with 6:30 left, outscored the Blue Raiders 9-0 to take a 45-38 lead.

UALR scored 17 points off 18 Middle Tennessee turnovers, 13 coming in the second half.

“Defense turns into offense,” said Kiera Clark, who had 10 points and six rebounds.

And as Foley said, the offense still has a ways to go.

“We’re just all right,” Ford said. “We’re just working our way through it.”SATURDAY’S GAMES Arkansas State 77, La.-Monroe 58 UALR 51, Middle Tennessee 43 W. Kentucky 72, Fla. International 53 La.-Lafayette 72, Florida Atlantic 57 Troy 86, North Texas 69ARKANSAS STATE 77, LOUISIANA-MONROE 58

MONROE, La. - The Arkansas State women’s basketball team won its second consecutive road game with a victory over Louisiana-Monroe (8-18, 5-11 Sun Belt) at Fant-Ewing Coliseum.

Freshman Jalen O’Bannon and junior Jane Morrill led Arkansas State (14-12, 11-6) with 20 points each. Senior point guard Ashley Olvera added 18 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and 5 steals.

ASU led 37-32 at halftime and pushed the lead to 10 points early in the second half. Olvera scored on a layup with 15:36 left to put the Red Wolves up 48-37. The lead never fell below 10 points again.

Olvera and O’Bannon combined to score 26 of ASU’s 40 points in the second half.

ASU trailed by nine points in the first half after Louisiana-Monroe hit 10 of its first 15 shots.

Morrill hit the first of two three-pointers in the first half with 11:30 to go in the half to pull the Red Wolves’ within 20-14.

SWAC WOMEN TEXAS SOUTHERN 63, ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF 59

HOUSTON - Arkansas-Pine Bluff (9-15, 5-9 Southwestern Athletic Conference) was held without a field goal in the final 3:05 in a loss to Texas Southern (15-9, 12-1).

Lakendra Marsh’s jumper extended the Lady Lions’ lead to 58-53 with 3:05 remaining, but Texas Southern outscored UAPB 10-1 to earn the victory.

Kayla West (14 points) tied the game at 58-58, and her two free throws with 1:44 remaining gave the Lady Tigers a 60-58 lead.

Sports, Pages 36 on 02/17/2013

Print Headline: UALR stops Middle Tennessee

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