UALR women aim for tourney title

EVANSVILLE, Ind. -- With its win over Tennessee Tech last Saturday, the Arkansas-Little Rock women's basketball team secured the No. 2 seed and a double-bye in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament that began Wednesday at the Ford Center.

Southern Indiana enters the tournament as the No. 1 seed, earning that designation with a 17-1 record in conference play. Due to the Screaming Eagles only being in their second season as a Division I program after reclassifying from Division II, they are allowed to participate in the conference tournament, but are ineligible to compete in the NCAA Tournament.

That could potentially benefit UALR in a major way. If the bracket holds and both of the top two seeds advance to Saturday's championship game, the Trojans will automatically qualify for the NCAA Tournament, regardless of the outcome of the championship game.

Southern Indiana had defeated UALR twice on the season, including a 88-51 win on Feb. 17 at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock. The opportunity is there for the Trojans, but none of it will matter if they are not able to get past No. 3 seed Tennessee-Martin in tonight's semifinal matchup.

"We had a chance to go into the tournament as two or a six [seed], I'd much rather be a two," UALR Coach Joe Foley said on the significance of the win over Tennessee Tech last week. "It gives us two more days to rest."

The last time the two teams met, the Skyhawks slipped past the Trojans 64-58 on Feb. 6 in Little Rock. UALR came out on top 57-48 in the first matchup Jan. 13 at Martin, Tenn.

Tennessee-Martin is led by Melbourne native Kenley McCarn. The freshman guard averaged 16.3 points per game this season and scored 23 against the Trojans in the most recent matchup. McCarn poured in a game-high 31 points in the Skyhawks' victory over Tennessee Tech in Thursday's quarterfinal game.

"She's a heck of a player," Foley said of McCarn following the Trojans' loss to the Skyhawks last month. "No doubt the best freshman in the league, maybe the best player in the league. She can take you one on one and we couldn't stop her."

After injuries and illness hampered UALR last week, several key players should be back in the lineup for the Trojans today.

Guards Sha'Nequa Henry and Jaiyah Harris-Smith are expected to play today after both missed the games against Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech last week because of illness. Tia Harvey and Leilani Wimbish-Gay will both be out the remainder of the season due to injuries.

Tipoff for today's game is set for approximately 3:30 p.m. Central, or 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first semifinal matchup between Southern Indiana and No. 4 seed Eastern Illinois that is set for a 1 p.m. start.


OVC women’s glance

At Ford Center, Evansville, Ind.

THURSDAY’S QUARTERFINALS

Eastern Illinois 60, Tennessee St. 48

Tennessee-Martin 79, Tennessee Tech 71

TODAY’S SEMIFINALS

All times Central

Southern Indiana vs. Eastern Illinois, 1 p.m.

UALR vs. Tennessee-Martin, 3:30 p.m.


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