Next Up At SBC Tourney for UALR Women’s Team – Western Kentucky


SBC Tourney Semis Await – UALR Wins 66-54

ualr at sbc tourney

NEW ORLEANS, La. – For the seventh straight year, the UALR women’s basketball team will be moving on to the Sun Belt Conference Tournament semifinals.

Third-seeded UALR was in a tight contest with No. 6 Troy for much of its Wednesday-night tournament quarterfinal at Lakefront Arena, but UALR used a late first-half run to pull away and never lost its lead in a 66-54 win that seemed closer throughout than its final score would indicate.

UALR (18-11) will be back in action on Friday at 2:30 p.m. against second-seeded WKU at Lakefront Arena, while Troy (12-18) saw its year come to an end.

Shanity James had her second consecutive double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds and also contributed a career-best four blocks. Senior Taylor Ford tallied a game-high 21 points on 9 of 13 shooting, grabbed five rebounds and contributed four assists. Taylor Gault scored in double-figures as well, pouring in 14 points and pulling down five rebounds. Kiera Clark was also in double figures with 12 points and had a career-high seven assists.

Perhaps most impressive on the night was UALR’s defense, a unit that shut down the Sun Belt’s most prolific offense in Troy. All-Sun Belt First Team guard Joanna Harden – who entered the night fourth in the country with 25.7 points per game – was held to a season-low 10 points on Wednesday night. She made just three shots out of 15 and only went to the free-throw line four times.

This same Troy team scored 88 points on UALR just two weeks ago in Alabama, and the team’s 54 points Wednesday was more than 27 below their season average.

UALR has now won four consecutive games to tie a season-long streak and has also claimed victories in eight of the last nine. The team has now reached the conference semifinals every year since 2008.

Troy threatened early in the second half to put that streak in jeopardy, as consecutive 3-pointers by Kourtney Coleman got the team within two points at 40-38. But UALR responded well when Clark and Ford hit jumpers and UALR went back ahead by double digits. Gault free throws after the second media timeout put UALR up 54-44, and the team never led by fewer than six again.

Troy was last within six points at 58-52 with 8:04 to go, but UALR mounted an 8-0 run after that to go ahead by 14 points with 2:11 to go. That was the team’s largest lead of the night. Ford had two jumpers and two free throws in that eight-point stretch, capping her night with 21. Wednesday was just the third time all year the senior scored at least 20 points.

The first half was much closer as UALR went down in the very early going by a 6-1 score. But trailing 9-5, UALR went on a 10-0 run fueled by James layups to take a 15-9 lead with 14 minutes to play in the half.

The Trojans maintained their lead for a short while, but Troy eventually re-tied the game at 22-22 with 6:48 to play. That’s when UALR went on its second big run of the half, scoring the next 12 points to take a 34-22 lead in a three-minute span and build the lead it would never relinquish. Ford and Gault had two baskets each in that span, and James and Keys added two points apiece as UALR took control of the game.

Troy cut its deficit to eight at halftime, going into the break down 36-28.

Hannah Fohne and Keanna Keys were UALR’s only other scorers as Fohne put in six points and Keys added two.

During the game, Ford moved to sole possession of fifth all-time in UALR history for defensive rebounding while Gault tied for fourth all-time in made free throws.

UALR will play next on Friday afternoon in the SBC Tourney semifinal on Friday at 2:30 p.m. The Trojans will take on second-seeded WKU, who came from behind to knock off No. 7 Louisiana in Wednesday’s earlier evening game. The Trojans and Hilltoppers split their regular-season series with each team winning on their own home court.

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