MONROE, La -- ULM (9-20, 7-13) will begin play in the 2013 Sun Belt Championship on Friday with Florida Atlantic (12-16, 9-11) at noon inside Summit Arena. The two teams split the regular season series with ULM winning the most recent matchup in Boca Raton, 90-86, on Jan. 30.
Sun Belt Player of the Week, Ashleigh Simmons averaged 22.0 points and 13 rebounds per game during the week. She led the Warhawks to two comfortable wins over FIU and UL-Lafayette.
|Setting the Stage
||Florida Atlantic (12-16, 9-11) at ULM (9-20, 7-13 SBC)|
||Friday, March 8, 2013|
|Time||12 p.m. (CT)|
|Location||Hot Springs, Ark. (Summit Arena / 6,000)|
|Video||Sun Belt Digital Network
|Audio||1680 AM / Warhawks All-Access
|Internet||Live Stats / Twitter: @ULMWarhawks & #WarhawkWBB|
|Team Information||ULM Women's Basketball | Florida Atlantic Women's Basketball
||ULM Game Notes (PDF) | Florida Atlantic Game Notes (PDF) | Sun Belt Notes (PDF)
AROUND THE SUN BELT
Middle Tennessee was one of five teams to earn a first-round bye in next week’s SBC Women’s Basketball tournament. The Blue Raiders finished the season on a four-game winning streak defeating No. 3 seed WKU in the season finale. MT (22-7, 17-3 SBC) earned the tournament’s top seed and was the outright Regular Season and East Division champion. The East division title marked the fifth-consecutive title for the Blue Raiders. WKU, Arkansas State and FIU, the tournament’s Nos. 3-5 seeds, will all earn byes in the first round of the tournament. WKU will take on the winner of the North Texas-UL-Lafayette game on March 9 at 2:00 p.m. while ASU and FIU will square off against each other on March 9 at 11:30 a.m. The tournament runs from Friday, March 8 through Monday, March 11 at which time the women’s championship game will be contested at 1:00 p.m. on ESPNU. South Alabama closed out its final week of the regular season with a pair of SBC road victories to move into a tie with North Texas for sixth-place and take the seventh seed. The Lady Jags enter the postseason as one of the hotter teams in the league as they have won three-straight and five of their last seven. One of the big reasons for the success over the last seven games has been the play of the offense. During that time, USA has recorded 60-points or more four times – including each of the last three games – while being held below 50 points just once. All SBC tournament games will be streamed live and for free via the SunBeltSports.org website.
A LOOK AT THE WARHAWKS
ULM closed out the regular season with two decisive wins. ULM collected the season-sweep of FIU, 64-53, on Thursday and did the same with a 64-50 win over UL-Lafayette on Saturday. Ashleigh Simmons improved her All-Sun Belt candidacy with her eighth and ninth double-doubles and 44 points and 26 rebounds in two games. Against the Panthers she finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds and set a career-high of 27 points with 14 rebounds against the Cajuns. The program’s winningest coach, Mona Martin, won her 250th game on Thursday. The Warhawks will play Florida Atlantic to open the Sun Belt Championship on Friday at noon. The two teams split the regular season series with ULM winning most recently in Boca Raton, 90-86, on Jan. 30. The all-time series is tied at four wins a piece. ULM is now 19-16 all-time in overtime games after the win at UL-Lafayette. Alexar Tugler scored 37 points in the two games in Florida (18.5 points per game). The win over Troy on Jan. 10 was the 50th all-time Sun Belt for ULM. Seven Warhawks have led ULM in scoring this season. At #18 Texas on Dec. 11, ULM attempted 41 free throws, it was the first time the squad tallied 40 or more FTs in a single game since Dec. 21, 1999 (W, 66-65 vs. New Orleans). The Warhawk program collected its 600th all-time victory on Saturday at FIU. ULM is one home win away from 300 inside Fant-Ewing Coliseum.
SCOUTING THE OWLS
Florida Atlantic enters with a 12-16 overall record and a 9-11 mark in Sun Belt play. The Owls represent the eighth seed heading into the Sun Belt Championship on Friday. FAU has lost four of five with its last win coming on Feb. 20 at North Texas, 73-60. Redshirt-junior forward Chenise Miller leads the team with 12.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. She also averages 1.8 blocks per game, which is second in the league. Redshirt-senior guard Breana Turner is averaging 12.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per game while junior guard Takia Brooks is at 10.5 points per game and leads the team with 2.7 assists per game. FAU is fourth in the SBC in scoring offense at 68.2 points per game and lead the league with 11.1 steals per game. Head coach Kellie Lewis-Jay is in her first season with the program.
FLORIDA ATLANTIC VS. ULM SERIES
The all-time series between FAU and ULM is tied at 4-4. The two teams split this season’s meetings with the road teams winning each time. In Boca Raton, ULM won 90-86, which is the most points scored since the Dec. 29, 2010 game against the Owls (83). The series began in 2007. They have never met in the Sun Belt Championship until Friday’s contest.
WARHAWK TO WATCH
Junior forward Ashleigh Simmons has shown she is one of the best forwards in the Sun Belt and improved her All-SBC resume with her ninth double-double of the season on Saturday afternoon in the 64-50 win over UL-Lafayette. She finished with 27 points (a career-high) and 14 rebounds and her nine double-doubles is tied for fourth in the league. She ranks fifth in the league with 8.2 rebounds per game.
ULM won its final two games of the regular season by comfortable margins. The 64-53 win over FIU was the largest Sun Belt win of the season until Saturday’s 64-50 win over UL-Lafayette. In the past two games the Warhawks have outrebounded its opponents 45.0 to 39.5 while shooting 43% from the floor. The last time ULM won its last two games before the Sun Belt Championship was two years ago and ULM went on to win its first round game over Troy, 60-51.
LAST TIME OUT
ULM (9-20, 7-13) collected its third season-sweep of the season over UL-Lafayette (9-19, 3-16) on Saturday afternoon, 64-50. Ashleigh Simmons collected her ninth double-double of the season with a career-high 27 points and 14 rebounds. Her nine such performances are tied for third in the Sun Belt. Her 27 points match the most scored by a Warhawk this season (Shaw scored 27 points against Southern Miss on Dec. 9). Christina Gray finished with 10 rebounds while Alexar Tugler scored 14 points.
NCAA REGIONAL REMATCH
ULM, Northeast Louisiana at the time, and Texas met in the second round of the 1984 NCAA Tournament played in Ruston, La. after a 78-73 win over Kansas State in the opening round. Texas won the game 99-91 behind Andrea Lloyd’s 29 and Fran Harris’ 26 points. NLU was led by 36 from the program’s all-time leading scorer, Lisa Ingram, who poured in 36 points and pulled down 14 boards. Coach Ok, E.J. Lee at the time, had 17 points and 15 assists. The Lady Indians ended the season 23-4 and made the Final Four the following season, losing to eventual champion Old Dominion inside the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas, 57-47.
SUN BELT CHANGES
This season, the Sun Belt schedule structure will change as Denver exits to join the WAC, leaving the Sun Belt with 10 members. Each team will play 20 SBC games, twice against each member. The Sun Belt will change again in 2013-14 as Georgia State, UT-Arlington and Texas State join the league. Middle Tennessee, FIU, Florida Atlantic and North Texas also have left for Conference USA.
Ashleigh Simmons turned in a double-double at Nicholls State with 22 points and 12 rebounds, both career-highs. It was the first double-double for the Warhawks since Larrie Williams at Northwestern State (12/21/11) and Simmons is now the second player on the roster to accomplish the feat. Alexar Tugler did it with 18 points and 10 rebounds in the same game as Williams. Jasmine Shaw turned in the second double-double performance of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds at Tennessee Tech, her first career double-double. Simmons did it again against Florida Atlantic with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Simmons picked up her third such performance against Middle Tennessee with 15 points and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes. Simmons went back-to-back at South Alabama with 14 points and a career-high 13 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season. Simmons did it again, for the fifth time at FAU, with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Alexar Tugler also got in on the act for the first time this season with 19 points and 10 rebounds. For the sixth time this season, Simmons collected a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds at UL-Lafayette. Simmons’ seventh such performance came at Western Kentucky with 24 points and 17 rebounds, both career-highs. Simmons did twice over the weekend, most recently against UL-Lafayette, with a career-high 27 points and 14 rebounds.
The ULM roster well welcome three newcomers for the 2012-13 season. Alayshia Hunter, Ashley Aune and Jasmine Taylor will wear Maroon & Gold for the the first time. Hunter joins the team out of Killeen, Texas and Ellison High School where she was an All-State selection in 2011 and 2012. Aune is from Church Point, La. and Sacred Heart High School where she finished her prep career with 1,158 points. Taylor is from Denton, Texas and Denton High School where she averaged 14.0 points per game and was a First Team All-District selection. All three made their debut at SFA.
SUN BELT IN POSTSEASON
Four Sun Belt teams played in postseason tournaments in 2011-12. UALR won the league’s automatic bid by winning the Sun Belt Championship, 71-70, in overtime against Middle Tennessee. The Trojans fell in the first round to three seed Delaware, 73-42. Middle Tennessee also made the tournament as an at-large team and lost to seven seed Vanderbilt, 60-46. Both FIU and Florida Atlantic appeared in the WNIT and combined for a 1-2 record with the Panthers defeating Stetson, 75-47. The Sun Belt has 64 total NCAA Tournament wins including a national championship (Old Dominion, 1985) and has sent at least two teams to the NCAA Tournament four out of the last six years, including the last two seasons.
With the 79-74 win over Troy on Jan. 26, ULM swept the regular season series versus Troy. The Warhawks won the first meeting , 75-69. Those are the most and second most points ULM has scored this season. The Maroon & Gold did not sweep and SBC opponent last year but did do it three times in 2010-11 over North Texas, Arkansas State and UL-Lafayette. ULM collected three season-sweeps this season with the last two wins over FIU and UL-Lafayette.
The roster may have just have three double-digit scorers but ULM makes up for that with scoring depth. Seven Warhawks have led the team in scoring this season and this balanced attack was highlighted by the win at Troy. Five players scored in double-figures for the first time since Feb. 18, 2002 and the 10th time in program history. Elexar Tugler had 13, Jasmine Shaw and Alexar Tugler scored 12, Ashleigh Simmons poured in 11 while Jae Shin chipped in 10. The Warhawks accomplished the feat again at FAU on Jan. 30 for the 11th time in program history as Alexar and Elexar Tugler led the way with 19, Simmons with 14, Christina Gray scored 12 while Alayshia Hunter chipped in 11.
Head Coach Mona Martin coached her 500th game at UALR on Dec. 1. The Warhawk program collected its 600th all-time victory on Saturday at FIU. Martin collected her 250th all-time victory on Thursday over FIU. ULM is one home win away from 300 inside Fant-Ewing Coliseum. The win against Troy on Jan. 26 was the program’s 50th Sun Belt victory.
ULM & KOMEN FOR THE CURE
ULM student-athletes and coaching staff have teamed up again with Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s fundraising efforts. The team spent a weekend in the summer at the Pecanland Mall promoting the 19th Annual Northeast Louisiana Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, which took place Sept. 29 at Forsythe Park in Monroe. In addition, the team handed out brochures promoting the event as well the Nov. 3 football game against UL-Lafayette. Tickets to that game were sold at the race for $10, with a portion of the proceeds going to breast cancer research. That football game will be a Pink Out and fans were encouraged to wear pink in recognition of those impacted by breast cancer. Both basketball programs will hold its annual “Pink Game” on March 2 with UL-Lafayette visits Monroe.
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL REUNION
The ULM Women’s Basketball family held a reunion on Oct. 26-27. Events included a party at the ULM SUB Ballroom, an “Old Timers Game” and a Tailgate Party prior to the football game against South Alabama. Notable returnees included former coaches Linda Harper and Roger Stockton and nearly 50 former players including the program’s all-time leading scorer Lisa Ingram.
FOLLOWING THE WARHAWKS
Fans can follow along with Warhawk Women’s Basketball several ways. Live audio and video are available for select home contests on ULMWarhawks.com via subscription. Select ULM Women’s Basketball games will be aired on either 1680 AM or 105.3 FM with the voice of Warhawk basketball, Nick White. Follow ULM Athletics on Twitter on @ULMWarhawks and on Facebook at ULM Warhawks.
With a win ULM will play top-seeded Middle Tennessee. The Warhawks have never beat the Blue Raiders in nine attempts. MT won in Monroe 66-48 and in Mufreesboro 74-53.