After a week with only six non-conference games played, Illinois State and Drake picked up wins with the Redbirds improving to 8-1 in non-conference play, winning their fourth-straight game and keeping a hold on the top spot in the Valley standings. Preseason favorite Drake owns a 6-4 mark and sits in second place while this week's MVC Player of the Week is Ashleen Bracey of Illinois State while Kelsey Woodard of Creighton has earned newcomer of the week honors.
Player of the Week
Ashleen Bracey, Illinois State, So, F, Oak Park, Ill.
Ashleen Bracey, a sophomore forward from Oak Park, Ill., recorded her third double-double in the last four games with 16 points and a career-high 11 rebounds against Miami (OH). Illinois State downed the Redhawks, and earned their eight non-conference victory and fourth-straight win. Bracey is the first Redbird to have that many double-doubles in such a short stretch since Kenyatta Shelton had four double-doubles in five games in 2006-07. It was her fourth-consecutive game with at least seven made field goals and at least nine rebounds. Bracey scored 10 points in the first half during a 34-10 Redbird run that turned a 10-9 deficit into a 43-20 lead.
Newcomer of the Week
Kelsey Woodard, Creighton, Fr, Bellevue, Neb.
Creighton freshman Kelsey Woodard came off the bench to help the Bluejays nearly pull off an upset on the road at Iowa State on Sunday. The rookie scored the last eight points of the first half to help Creighton to a 28-22 halftime lead. She finished with a team-high 12 points in just 19 minutes of play, shooting 3-for-4 from the floor and 2-for-3 from three-point range. She made her first four free-throw attempts to set a school record with 23 straight makes to start a season. The guard added a pair of assists and rebounds in the game.
Other Notable Performances...Player
Lindsay Whorton, Drake
Laura Rudolphi, Indiana State
Melissa Busby, Missouri State
Kiki Stephens, Wichita State
Other Notable Performances...Newcomer
Maggie Dwyer, Missouri State
Samantha Smith, Wichita State
Tickets on Sale
Tickets for the 2008 State Farm MVC Women's Basketball Tournament are on sale at the St. Charles Family Arena, online by visiting www.metrotix.com or by phone (314-534-1111), or through a Valley school's institutional ticket office. Tickets for the women's tournament are $40 for all-session and the single-session price is $15 for adults, $10 for youths/students/seniors.
Braves End Road Skid
Bradley ended a seven-game losing streak in non-conference road games last Wednesday with an 80-56 victory at Loyola. Bradley’s last non-conference road victory was Dec. 2, 2005 at Loyola, when the Braves posted a 61-50 against the Ramblers at the Gentile Center. BU had lost six consecutive games away from home heading into last Wednesday’s game in Chicago. The Braves last win away from Robertson Memorial Field House was a 65-56 triumph against Missouri State in the first round of the State Farm MVC Tournament.
Dial In From Downtown
Bradley opened the season struggling from long distance, shooting 26.8 percent (15-for-56) from beyond the arc over the first five games of the season. The Braves have heated up, however, hitting 19-of-43 (44.2 percent) from three-point range over the last four contests. The recent three-point shooting binge started when the Braves shot 64.3 percent from three-point range in an 83-57 home win against Eastern Illinois, knocking down nine of 14 three-point attempts. The 64.3 percent from three-point range is the third best shooting performance in school history and was the best since setting a school record for accuracy against Northern Iowa, hitting 9-of-11 three-point attempts on Feb. 10, 2001. Bradley also shot 50 percent (6-for-12) from beyond the arc at Loyola.
Flanagan Cracks Top 25 in Scoring
Senior Devyn Flanagan scored six points last week against Toledo to climb into 22nd on Bradley’s career scoring list. Flanagan has jumped up four spots on the all-time scoring list in the last two games, passing Karen Richardson (798 points), Kathy Stokes (802), former teammate Jen Brown (805) and Erika Grogg (816) to slide into place. Flanagan needs 13 points to move into a tie for 20th place and is just 19 points away from 18th. Flanagan is the first player to have more than 700 points entering their senior season since Genny Mueller in 2004-05. All 11 players that scored 700 or more points before their final season reached the 1,000-point mark during their last season as a Brave. Junior Kelly Krumwiede is second among active players with 444 career points.
Free For All
Earlier this season, Sam Schuett established a school record by starting the season with 22 straight free-throw makes. On Sunday, freshman Kelsey Woodard surpassed her teammate to set the new standard at 23 straight makes to start the season. The 23 straight makes are also a record to start a career. The Bluejays lead the MVC and rank among NCAA leaders, shooting 77.4 percent at the line as a team.
Drought in Ames
The Bluejays appeared poised to snap an eight-game losing streak to Big 12 opponents when they held a 28-22 halftime lead at Iowa State and pushed ahead to 47-37 with 9:35 to play in the game. From there, the Bluejays did not make a field goal for the remainder of the game, missing their final nine attempts, as ISU closed on a 23-5 run to top the Jays 60-52.
Creighton returns to Omaha this week after playing six games away from home. The Bluejays host Kansas State on Tuesday after a 29-day hiatus from home. CU is 2-0 at home this year, while they went 3-3 on their season-long six-game road trip.
Moving On Up
Senior Lindsay Whorton heads into Drake’s Dec. 30 game versus UC Davis needing seven three-pointers to move into third place in school history in career triples. In 101 career games, she has registered 218.
When UC Davis visits Drake at the end of the month, it will be the first meeting between the two schools in history. UC Davis comes to Des Moines on Dec. 30.
Senior guard Rebekah Parker will likely join UE’s career Top 10 chart for scoring this week, as she enters Friday’s game at Wright State just five points shy of 10th place. Parker has totaled 1,118 career points in 96 career games at UE, and is just five point shy of Krista Blunk (1989-93) for 10th on the UE chart, and just 14 points away from former Purple Ace Megan Liffick (2002-06) for ninth place on the career scoring chart. Should Parker break into the career Top 10 in scoring, she will become just the second player in school history to rank in UE’s career Top 10 in scoring, rebounding, assists, and steals.
On The Rebound
Junior forward Shannon Novosel entered the 2007-08 season with three career double-figure rebounding games at UE. Just nine games into her junior campaign, Novosel has already matched that total, as she recorded her third double-figure rebounding game of the season with a career-high 14 boards on December 8 against Ball State. Novosel currently leads Evansville and the MVC in rebounding at 8.7 rebounds per game. She has grabbed at least six rebounds in eight of UE’s nine contests this year.
Going Back To Ohio
The Purple Aces have enjoyed a good deal of success against teams from the state of Ohio during Tricia Cullop’s tenure as head coach, as UE is 5-1 against teams from the Buckeye state in Cullop’s seven-plus years on the bench. Cullop came to UE from the state of Ohio, as she served as the top assistant at Xavier in Cincinnati before taking over the head position at UE in 2000.
Getting Off On the Right Foot
Illinois State’s 8-1 start to the season is the second-best in program history. The last time the Redbirds were 8-1 was 1976-77. ISU’s eight non-conference wins this year is a program record.
Lewis Gets It Done From the Line
Sophomore center Nicolle Lewis led the Redbirds against Miami (Ohio) with a season-high 20 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block. It was the first time Lewis scored 20 points since she netted 21 at Drake on March 1, 2007. For the second-consecutive game, Lewis was perfect from the free throw line, making all eight of her shots from the charity stripe. She has made 14-consecutive free throws, spanning the last two games.
ISU’s 92-69 win over Miami (Ohio) was its third straight against an opponent from the Mid-American Conference.
Coming Up Short
After winning each of their first five games this season when posting three or more players in double figures scoring, the Sycamores have put a trio of scorers in double figures in each of the past two games and have come up on the short end of the scoreboard. Angela Phillips and Laura Rudolphi each scored 20 points against Marquette, while Maria Olsthoorn added 10 in an 83-79 loss against the Golden Eagles. ISU lost its previous game against Michigan State, despite having a trio of Sycamores reach double figures scoring.
Indiana State senior center Laura Rudolphi has posted a team-best 18 blocked shots on the season, which gives her a total of 120 for her career, a new Indiana State school record. Her 120 blocked shots rank 12th best in the history of the Missouri Valley Conference.
Sophomore forward Maria Olsthoorn continued her strong run by posting 10 points against Marquette in her second career start. Olsthoorn enjoyed her second career double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds) last week in her first collegiate start against nationally-ranked Michigan State.
Adams In, Wyett Out
Missouri State received a boost with the addition of Jamie Adams, a two-year MSU volleyball starter who began practicing with the Lady Bears this past week before scoring four points, grabbing a team-high seven rebounds and recording two blocks in the loss at Oral Roberts on Saturday. Adams, who will have two years of basketball eligibility, earned second-team All-MVC honors in 2006 and 2007 and helped the volleyball Bears to three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances. The addition of Adams will help soften the blow of Breton Wyett’s departure from the MSU program. A junior forward, Wyett elected to leave the Lady Bear program for personal reasons last Monday after playing in MSU’s first eight games this season, averaging 1.5 points and 1.8 rebounds per contest. She was the Lady Bears’ second-leading scorer last year, averaging 10.4 points and 5.0 rebounds per outing while shooting a team-high .462 from the field. Wyett led the Missouri Valley Conference in blocks per game with a 1.96 average and recorded 45 blocks in all, the fourth-highest single-season total in MSU history. She leaves Missouri State as the program’s No. 2 all-time shot-blocker with 96 career rejections.
Mags to Riches
Junior forward Maggie Dwyer has found her shooting stroke over the Lady Bears’ last four contests. While averaging a team-high 17.0 points per game over that stretch, Dwyer has shot .462 from the field, including a red-hot .571 from three-point range after connecting on just 28.6 percent of her field-goal attempts in Missouri State’s first five games of the season. She has also played 30.3 minutes per outing, also a team high, while pulling down 5.8 boards per game in her last four games.
On the Road Again
Since snapping a seven-game road losing streak with an 83-76 win over Indiana State in Terre Haute last January, the Lady Bears have dropped their last 12 contests on the road and their last 13 away from Hammons Student Center overall. Over the last two years, Missouri State has won just two true road games and only four of its 32 games away from Hammons.
Keefe Leaves Team
University of Northern Iowa senior forward Megan Keefe has left the team, head coach Tanya Warren announced last week. Keefe is leaving due to personal reasons, and she will remain enrolled in classes at UNI. Keefe has played in 90 games for the Panthers in her career, averaging 5.6 points per game. She has started seven games this season, averaging nearly 25 minutes per game.
The Panthers are averaging 60 points per game, and 29 of those are coming from Panther reserves. UNI has tallied at least 24 points off the bench in all eight of its contests this season. Against No. 3/6 Maryland, UNI finished with 37 points, 27 coming off the bench.
Swingler Breaks Out
Saluki newcomer Katrina Swingler scored her first points of her collegiate career with a break-out game against Central Arkansas Saturday. The freshman forward recorded 13 points, adding five rebounds, an assist and three steals in 25 minutes for Southern. All were career-bests for Swingler. Coach Eikenberg has been impressed with Swingler’s work in practice giving the freshman the start against the Sugar Bears. She shot 6-of-9 from the floor and recorded no turnovers in the win.
Sweere on Pace for 1,000
Jayme Sweere is averaging 13.3 points this season, with 93 total through seven games. The senior has recorded over 360 points in each of her first two seasons as a Saluki, bringing her career total to 826, just 174 away from the 1,000-point mark. Sweere is currently ranked 24th all-time in scoring at SIU, also the 24th Saluki to hit 800 points in her career.
Five In Double-Digits
For the first time since last February, the Salukis put five players in double-digit scoring against Central Arkansas Saturday. Jayme Sweere and Jasmine Gibson pitched in 21 points each, while Katrina Swingler added a career-high 13 and Ellen Young and Erica Smith scored 11 apiece. The last time Southern put five players in double-digits was last season, Feb. 4 at Illinois State. Gibson and Sweere both scored in double-digits that game also.
Wichita State will attempt to finish its home non-conference slate with a perfect record for the second time in the last three years when the Shockers host Texas State and Winthrop this week in Charles Koch Arena. The Shockers are 4-0 at home this season, and with two wins would finish with an undefeated non-conference record at home after doing so in 2005-06 as well. The 2005-06 team went on to win 15 games that season and finish fifth in the league race.
WSU’s Charles Koch Arena will be near capacity Tuesday afternoon when the Shockers play host to Texas State on School House Rocks with the Shocks Day, with more than 9,500 elementary and middle school students expected to participate in the festivities surrounding the contest with the Bobcats.
Wichita State welcomed 8,590 students and fans to last year’s event, but just a limited number of tickets remain to tomorrow’s game, which will likely give the conference attendance marks a new addition as one of the largest crowds in MVC history.
It Is All About Quality
While the Shockers are scoring just 52 points per game this season, head coach Jane Albright isn’t about to panic, thanks in large part to the quality of defenses the Shockers have faced, and will continue to face, this season. The Shockers have already faced three of the nation’s top 12 scoring defenses in ranked foes Texas A&M (10th), Oklahoma State (12th) and Paradise Jam champion Wake Forest (8th). But what may not be known in common circles is recent opponent UTPA ranks 33rd nationally in scoring defense as well, while Sunday’s opponent New Mexico State ranks 99th in total defense, but 30th nationally in field-goal percentage defense. Winthrop, who appears on the Shockers’ schedule this week in the final non-conference game of the season, is also among the top 40, coming in at 39th by allowing just 55.9 points per game, and is currently third nationally in field-goal percentage defense. The Shockers have the top defense in the conference thus far, the only MVC team to rank among the top 100 in scoring defense.