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Vornes paves way for UALR women

by Eli Lederman | February 22, 2021 at 1:59 a.m.

University of Arkansas at Little Rock senior Krystan Vornes scored 21 points and pulled down 13 rebounds in the Trojans' 66-46 victory over Louisiana-Monroe at Fant-Ewing Coliseum in Monroe, La., on Sunday.

UALR (13-7, 9-4 Sun Belt Conference) shot 52% from the field and dominated the War Hawks in the paint where the Trojans won the rebound battle 36-21, including 14 offensive rebounds, and scored 34 points to top ULM (2-17, 0-13) in the opener of the two-game series. The teams will meet again at 1 p.m. today.

Vornes shot 9 of 14 from the field and finished two points shy of the career-high 23 she scored against the Warhawks on Jan. 30, en route to her eighth double-double of the season. Senior Teal Battle scored 18 points on 50% shooting, and freshman Tia Harvey joined the pair in double-figures with 10 points. Junior Mayra Caicedo dished eight assists.

Redshirt-junior Kierra Brimzy led ULM with 16 points, and senior Diamond Brooks used eight first-half points to finish with 12. The Warhawks went 0 for 7 from three-point range and shot 37.3% as a team.

The road win marked the Trojans' fifth consecutive victory and their seventh in eight games since Jan. 29. Sunday's result also moved the Trojans level with Texas-Arlington for a share of second place in the Sun Belt's West Division with three games remaining in the regular season, a position which would earn UALR a first round-bye at the conference tournament beginning March 5.

"You prepare to go there and play four games," said UALR Coach Joe Foley. "But if we get the bye and only have to play three, that wouldn't hurt."

The Trojans went without a field goal for the first 2:55, and ULM jumped to 7-0 lead on a lay-up by Brooks and jumpers from Brimzy and sophomore Gara Beth Self before UALR sophomore Angelique Francis (four points, eight rebounds) put the Trojans on the board with a second-chance basket.

The Warhawks led 9-3 before its offense stagnated over a scoreless 4:02 in the first quarter. UALR scored 12 unanswered points over that stretch, beginning with a crafty spinning finish by Vornes and a three-pointer from Caicedo, and the Trojans led 15-11 at the end of the opening period.

UALR opened a 25-15 advantage in the second quarter that the Warhawks trimmed to 25-21 before the Trojans closed the half on an 8-2 powered by Battle and Vornes, who each scored four points in the final 3:22 before halftime.

"I thought our timing was a little off at first." Foley said. "You could tell we'd missed some practice. It wasn't real smooth in the first quarter. We got better in the second quarter."

Vornes scored nine points and was a perfect 4 of 4 from the field in the third quarter, when UALR shot 64.3% from the field and outscored the hosts 19-10 to open a 52-33 lead. Caicedo recorded five assists in the third quarter, including a sharp pass to Harvey for an open jumper.

The Trojans' shooting accuracy continued in the fourth quarter, where they went 7 of 11 and their lead grew as large as 22 points. Vornes hit two more field goals in the final quarter, capping off her second-best scoring performance of the season.

"I'm proud of Krystan's performance and how she has stepped up this year," Foley said. "She was a leader on the floor tonight and was effective in the paint and on the glass. We need her to keep up that intensity so we can continue to win the next play."

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