Blue Raiders and Warhawks to Meet in Second Round Battle
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- ULM (10-20, 7-13) will attempt to upend top-seeded Middle Tennessee's title dreams on Saturday when the two teams meet in the second round of the 2013 Sun Belt Championship at noon inside Summit Arena. ULM has is 0-9 against the Blue Raiders all-time.
|Setting the Stage
||Middle Tennessee (22-7, 17-3) vs. ULM (10-20, 7-13 SBC)|
||Saturday, March 9, 2013|
|Time||12 p.m. (CT)|
|Location||Hot Springs, Ark. (Summit Arena / 6,000)|
|Television||Sun Belt Network
|Audio||1680 AM / Warhawks All-Access
|Internet||Live Stats / Twitter: @ULMWarhawks & #WarhawkWBB|
|Team Information||ULM Women's Basketball | Middle Tennessee Women's Basketball
||ULM Game Notes (PDF) | Middle Tennessee Game Notes (PDF) | Sun Belt Notes (PDF)
AROUND THE SUN BELT
The 2013 Sun Belt Championship got underway with the lower seeds winning all three games on Friday. #11 UL-Lafayette won the game of the day in double-overtime over #6 North Texas, 80-74. Five Cajuns scored in double-figures led by 17 points from Keke Veal. Alexis Hyder led all scorers with 25 points in the losing effort. #10 Troy cruised past South Alabama, 62-49, led by 17 points from Sarah McAppion. Mansa El scored 14 points to lead the Lady Jags. #9 ULM began the day with a 70-63 win over #8 Florida Atlantic.
A LOOK AT THE WARHAWKS
ULM never trailed against FAU on Friday and went on to the 70-63 opening-round victory. Ashleigh Simmons and Alexar Tugler both picked up double-doubles as the Warhawks collected its third ever Sun Belt Championship win. ULM led 28-23 at the break and are now 9-4 when leading at the half this season. Simmons was named Sun Belt Player of the Week on March 4, it is the first such honor for ULM. She averaged 22 points and 13 points in the two wins to close out the regular season. 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 BLUE RAIDERS
Top-seeded Middle Tennessee enters with an overall record of 22-7 and a league mark of 17-3. The Blue Raiders placed three student-athletes on the All-SBC team. Kortni Jones and Ebony Rowe collected first Team honors while Icelyn Elie was named to the Second Team. Rowe leads the team with 20.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game. Jones is averaging 16.2 points per game and hit eight three-pointers in the last meeting with ULM. Jones also leads the SBC with 4.5 assists per game. Elie is at 14.3 points per game and 7.4 rebounds per game. Head Coach Rick Insell (Middle Tennessee, 1977) is in his eighth season with the program and carries a sparkling 196-61 career-record into Saturday’s contest.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE VS. ULM SERIES
ULM has never beaten Middle Tennessee in nine attempts. The Blue Raiders took the season’s first meeting on Jan. 12, 66-48, and the second meeting, 74-53, on Feb. 23. In the most recent meeting, ULM trailed by just two at the break before MT ran away with it. The closest the Maroon & Gold have come to a win was 64-61 loss in Monroe on Jan. 24, 2008. Coach Martin has coached ULM in all contests and the two teams have never met in the Sun Belt Championship.
WARHAWK TO WATCH
Junior forward Ashleigh Simmons has shown she is one of the best forwards in the Sun Belt and collected Sun Belt Player of the Week on March 4 and was named All-SBC Third Team. Simmons led ULM to a 70-63 win over Florida Atlantic on Friday with her tenth double-double of the season (15 points/10 rebounds).
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.
THE SECOND SEASON
ULM began the postseason with a win over eighth-seeded Florida Atlantic on Friday, 70-63. Alexar Tugler matched the program record for SBC Tournament rebounds with 11 and Alayshia Hunter did the same with two blocks. It was the program’s third ever SBC Tournament win and the first over FAU.
SUN BELT CHAMPIONSHIP COVERAGE
The first round games can be viewed exclusively on www.SunBeltSports.org as the Sun Belt Digital Network will webcast those games. The quarterfinal games taking place in Summit Arena will be aired on the Sun Belt Network, while the Convention Center Court quarterfinals will be shown on Sun Belt Digital Network. Both semifinal matchups will be aired on the Sun Belt Network with the championship match being broadcast nationally on ESPNU at 1 p.m. CT.
LAST TIME OUT
ULM (10-20, 7-13) never trailed Friday afternoon and defeated Florida Atlantic (12-17, 9-11), 70-63, and advances to face Middle Tennessee on Saturday at noon. ULM collected its third all-time Sun Belt Championship victory while winning its third straight. Alexar Tugler and Ashleigh Simmons led the Warhawks with double-doubles. Simmons collected her 10th such performance with 15 points and 10 rebounds while Tugler did it for a second time with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Elexar Tugler finished with 12 points and Jasmine Shaw chipped in 12. Breana Turner led all scorers with 25 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. Simmons and Tugler both did it on the way to a 70-63 win over FAU.
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.
ULM will play the winner of #5 FIU and #4 Arkansas State on Sunday at noon inside Summit Arena with a trip to the SBC Title Game on the line.