2012-13 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL OUTLOOK
Karona Roach and Sha-Kiyla Finney represent the senior class for the 2012-13 season.

Karona Roach and Sha-Kiyla Finney represent the senior class for the 2012-13 season.

Oct. 24, 2012

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. -- The Lady Hawks come into the 2012-13 season looking to use a combination of returners and youth to guide them to a strong year. Fred Batchelor returns to the helm for his ninth season looking to continue the growth of the UMES program.

Last season, the Lady Hawks finished 8-8 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, the seventh time in the last eight years that UMES has had a .500 record or better in conference play. UMES earned the 6-seed in the MEAC Tournament, defeating Savannah State 51-28 in the top defensive performance ever in the conference tournament. That game was representative of the Lady Hawk defense, as UMES finished 20th in Division I in points allowed per game at 53.9 and sixth in opposing field goal percentage at 33.7%. Outgoing senior Adobi Agbasi was third in Division I in blocks per game with 3.72 each contest, concluding as the all-time shot blocks leader at the school with a total of 239.

This year, the Lady Hawks will add nine freshmen with seven returners in search of another strong showing in MEAC play.

GUARDS
Two players will run the floor for Lady Hawks this season. Jessica Long (Fort Washington, Md.), the UMES Women's Basketball Rookie of the Year, returns for her sophomore season. The former top-100 ranked high school point guard had 20 steals, 15 assists to lead all rookies last season, adding 53 points. Coming in to compete at point guard is Chalyse Taylor (Louisville, Ky.), a four-year starter at Eastern High. She led the Eagles with 12 points, six assists and three steals a game, helping her team reach the District finals and regional championship tournament.

At shooting guard, the Lady Hawks bring back a trio of returners, led by senior Sha-Kiyla Finney (Portsmouth, Va.), one of the top defensive players on the team. As a reserve last season, Finney had 20 steals, 52 rebounds and 19 assists. Also returning is sophomore Shawnee Sweeney (Colonial Heights, Va.), who led all rookies in three-point shots last season after playing in 18 games. Junior walk-on Breonna Evans returns this season after missing last year due to injury.

 

 

Three freshmen with size and speed come in to bolster the ranks for Batchelor's squad. Standing six-feet tall, Jameelah Pickard (Greensboro, N.C.) was a four-time all-conference player, leading Oak Ridge Academy to a 25-7 record and a top-10 ranking in the state. Also from North Carolina comes TeAmber Burke (Washington, N.C.). Burke, the first-ever female athlete from the Oakwood School to sign an NLI to play collegiate athletics, averaged 27 points a game in her senior year to earn Coastal Plain Independent Conference MVP. Finally, local product Kiana Sturgis (Pocomoke City, Md.) joins the Lady Hawks after being one of the top players on the Eastern Shore. The Bayside South MVP as a senior, she finished with over 1,000 points and rebounds in her career.

Combo guard/forward Karona Roach (Bear, Del.) is the team's other senior and leading scorer among returners. Roach shot 33.8% and finished with 119 points in 30 games, including 19 starts, plus was second on the Hawks with 39 assists.

FORWARDS
The Lady Hawks will see most of the time taken by freshmen in the frontcourt, but the team's top rebounder from last season is back, junior Shanyce Stewart (Mount Vernon, N.Y.). Stewart averaged 6.9 boards a game last season, 11th in the MEAC, finishing with 200. She also had 26 steals and 59 points. Also back is sophomore walk-on Saisha Coleman (Baltimore, Md.), who played in nine games last season.

At the four position comes freshman Ashleigh Claybrooks (Manassas, Va.), the 124th-ranked forward in the ESPN High School Class of 2012. Claybrooks averaged 12.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per contest, being named All-Central Virginia Player of the Year as a senior. Also competing will be fellow freshman Jaylaa' Stewart (Burlington, N.C.). A 1,000-point career scorer at Williams High, Stewart was named Times-News All-Region Player of the Year after leading her team to a 26-4 record and state title berth.

CENTERS
Three incoming freshman that all stand at least 6-foot-2 will battle for playing time in the paint. Out of New Jersey comes 6-foot-3 Taryana Kelly (North Brunswick, N.J.). As a senior, she averaged 11 points, eight rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game, leading North Brunswick to a Greater Middlesex Conference regular season title. Next up is 6-foot-2 Taylor Thompson (Chapel Hill, N.C.), a player who averaged a double double a game as a senior at Cedar Ridge High with 14.2 points and 12.1 boards per contest, scoring 21 double doubles that year. Rounding out the trio is 6-foot-4 Alexis Udoji (Randolph, Mass.). Udoji averaged a triple double with points, rebounds and blocks in her last three seasons at Cardinal Spellman High, being named The Enterprise Player of the Year as a senior.

COACHING STAFF
Coach Batchelor returns his entire coaching staff from last season, keeping the stability and reliability of the program. Associate head coach Revonda Whitley is back for her ninth year with UMES and 11th under Batchelor. Cedric Jenkins is back as an assistant coach in his seventh year. Also back is Richard "Magic" Ashley as the graduate assistant coach.

SCHEDULE
UMES will play a 27-game schedule this season, including 11 non-conference contests and a full MEAC slate. The Lady Hawks will play 14 times at the William P. Hytche Athletic Center in the 2012-13 season.

The season kicks off with an exhibition against Wilmington on November 7th at 6 p.m. at home.

The first game for UMES comes on the road on November 13th at 7 p.m. when the Lady Hawks take on George Mason in Fairfax, Virginia.

UMES plays its home opener on Saturday, November 17th at 6 p.m. when Elizabeth City State comes to the Hytche. Next, the squad takes on Old Dominion on Tuesday, November 20th at home at 6 p.m.

On Saturday, December 1st, UMES will play its first MEAC game against archrival Delaware State in Dover at 1 p.m.

Back to non-conference action, the Lady Hawks take on in-state opponent Mount St. Mary's in Emmitsburg on Wednesday, December 5th at 7 p.m.

Following a Saturday, December 8th matinee against Towson at 2 p.m. at the Hytche, UMES heads to Jacksonville, Florida to play in the Osprey Holiday Classic. The team takes on Campbell on Saturday, December 14th at 1 p.m., followed by a contest with tournament host North Florida at 3:30 p.m. the next day.

The Lady Hawks play two more home games in non-conference action, tipping off against American on Tuesday, December 18th at 6 p.m. and UMBC on Saturday, December 21st at 2 p.m.

UMES finishes up non-conference play with the Terrapin Classic in College Park, Maryland. In a battle of Hawks, UMES takes on Hartford at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, December 28th. The following day, the Lady Hawks will play either tournament host Maryland or Brown at 4:30 or 7 p.m.

The Maroon and Gray return to MEAC play on Saturday, January 12th with a 2 p.m. home game against Norfolk State. The following Saturday, UMES rematches against rival Delaware State, also at 2 p.m.

Coming back to the Sunshine State, the Lady Hawks take on their two Florida conference opponents in three days. They take on Florida A&M on Saturday, January 26th at 2 p.m., then Bethune-Cookman on Monday, January 28th at 5:30 p.m.

Back home, a pair of Tar Heel State teams come to the Hytche for a couple of games. UMES will play North Carolina A&T on Saturday, February 2nd at 2 p.m., then North Carolina Central that Monday, February 4th at 5:30 p.m.

On the road again goes UMES for two games the next weekend. Across the Bay Bridge in the nation's capital, the Lady Hawks will take on Howard for a 2 p.m. game on Saturday, February 9th. The next Monday, UMES crosses the Bay Bridge-Tunnel to take on Norfolk State at 5:30 p.m.

UMES will enjoy a four-game homestand over the following two weeks, starting with Homecoming on Saturday, February 16th at 2 p.m. against Morgan State. Coppin State is next on Monday, February 18th at 5:30 p.m. Two days later on February 20th, the Lady Hawks face reigning MEAC champion Hampton at 5:30 p.m. in the Hytche. To finish the home slate, UMES has a rematch with Howard for Senior Day on Monday, February 25th at 5:30 p.m.

The Lady Hawks head to Charm City for a pair of games against their Baltimore rivals, taking on Morgan State on Saturday, March 2nd at 2 p.m. and Coppin State on Monday, March 4th at 5:30 p.m.

The final regular season game will be on Thursday, March 7th as UMES heads to Georgia to play Savannah State at 5:30 p.m.

The MEAC Tournament will be held at the Scope Arena in Norfolk, Virginia, from March 11th through the 16th.