UMES PLAYS WAKE FOREST FOR FIRST TIME IN 23 YEARS ON MONDAY
Dec. 19, 2010
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - The University of Maryland Eastern Shore women's basketball team (2-4) heads to Wake Forest and the Joel Coliseum for a tough test against the Demon Deacons Monday at 7 p.m. The game marks the first time in 23 years the two teams have met as well as the first time UMES seventh-year head coach Fred Batchelor has played a team from the ACC. UMES comes into the game looking to break a streak of eight straight losses on the road out of MEAC play since the 2008-09 season.
Wake Forest is reeling a bit, losing its last four games, including a 72-66 loss at Jacksonville on Friday, after starting the season 4-0. The Deamon Deacons now stand at an even 5-5 on the season. The game at the Joel Coliseum could serve as a dress rehearsal of sorts, as for the third consecutive season, the MEAC Basketball Tournament will be held there March 8-13.
After the contest with Wake Forest, UMES will make the two-hour trip to Charlotte, to take on the 49ers for a Wednesday matinee at Noon. The Niners are the second WNIT qualifier UMES will face in two days as they advanced to the second round of last year's postseason tournament.
LAST TIME OUT: Towson started the second half with a 25-6 run to break open a two-point game at halftime to defeat UMES, 61-50, Saturday at the William P. Hytche Athletic Center. Junior guard Kwinnyata Mercer scored a game-high 21 points on 6-for-11 shooting with four rebounds and four steals for UMES. The Tigers scored 14 of the game's first 15 points over 4:12 before the Lady Hawks closed the period with a 25-14 stretch of its own. Senior center Chena Parker was the only other UMES player in double figures with 10 points, also adding nine rebounds. Towson outrebounded UMES 45-28, leading to a 15-7 advantage in second-chance points. The Tigers shot 42 percent from the field and held the Lady Hawks to just over 38 percent while placing three players in double digits. Krystal Parnell led the way with 17 points on 6-for-10 from the field.
SERIES HISTORY: Monday's game between Wake Forest and UMES will be the second in the women's basketball history of the schools. Wake Forest won the only other meeting between the two, 73-61, on Jan. 5, 1987 at Wake's Reynolds Gymnasium.
FEWEST GAMES PLAYED IN NATION: Coming into play on Monday, UMES has played the fewest games of any team in NCAA Division I - just six. Since head coach Fred Batchelor has been at UMES, the Lady Hawks have played only 28 games in the month of November, an average of four per season. In 2009-10, the team played three games in November. The most Batchelor's teams have played in November was six. UMES played six times in the 2004-05 and 2006-07 campaigns with records of 1-5 and 0-6, respectively. Batchelor holds a career record of 4-22 (.154) at UMES in the 11th month of the year.
NON-CONFERENCE ROAD WOES: With the 73-50 loss at Syracuse on Dec. 1, UMES has lost eight consecutive non-conference road games, dating back to the 2008-09 season. The last game the Lady Hawks won away from home out of MEAC play was at Longwood on Jan. 21, 2009. The Lady Hawks topped the Lancers, 57-55, on a jumper in the paint by Adobi Agbasi with two seconds remaining.
SCOUTING THE DEMON DEACONS: Wake Forest is 5-5 on the season, losing its last four games after starting 4-0. The Demon Deacons lost, 72-66, at Jacksonville on Friday. Brooke Thomas and Sandra Garcia scored 13 points apiece to pace four WFU players in double digits. Brittany Waters recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds and now has 966 career points. Wake has dropped a pair of games to nationally ranked foes so far this year, falling at No. 16/16 Notre Dame, 92-69, and to No. 12/13 Georgetown, 64-49 at the Joel Coliseum. Senior forward Waters leads a group of three Wake Forest players averaging double figures at 11.8 points per game. Sophomore center Garcia is the team's leading rebounder at 7.1 boards per game. Through games of Dec. 12, Wake is 30th in the NCAA, scoring 76.6 points per game as well as 20th in rebound margin (plus-9.9). The team is also in the top-100 nationally in nine other statistical categories. Overall, the Deacs, who finished with an 18-14 record in 2009-10, return four starters and 10 letterwinners from a team that qualified for the WNIT. Still, the Demon Deacons were picked to finish ninth in the ACC preseason poll. Wake Forest is coached by Mike Petersen, in his seventh season in Winston-Salem. He has guided the team to a 90-93 mark in his tenure.
YATA'S SPARK: Junior guard Kwinnyata Mercer has provided quite a spark to the UMES offense in five games off the bench this season. The 5-foot-8 transfer from Mashalltown (Iowa) Community College and native of Mount Vernon, N.Y., has reached double figures in all five games in which she's played with 11,10,10 and 13 points, respectively, before a breakout performance on Saturday. Mercer scored 21 points and added four rebounds and four steals to help keep UMES within striking distance of the Tigers for most of the day. She is sixth in the MEAC in scoring (13.0), second in both field-goal percentage (55.3) and 3-point percentage (50.0). She leads the conference in 3-pointers made (2.4). She is 17th in the nation in 3-point percentage as of Dec. 12.
20-20 VISION: Kwinnyata Mercer came off the bench to score 21 points against Towson Saturday, going 6-for-11 from the field and 3-for-5 from 3-point range. It was the first time a UMES player scored at least 20 points when not starting the game since senior Latoya Buckner poured in 20 against Coppin State on Feb. 20, 2010. A week later, April McBride tallied 22 against Howard, marking the last time a UMES player had eclipsed the 20-point barrier prior to Saturday.
OUT OF TIMEOUTS: With the score tied at 49 and 29 seconds left in regulation on Dec. 8, Long Island's Ashley Palmer called a timeout prior inbounding the ball but LIU didn't have any remaining, resulting in a technical foul, two free throws and the ball for UMES. Kwinnyata Mercer drained both freebies for the lead. The game eventually went to overtime where UMES, prevailed, 58-56. The play was reminiscent Chris Webber's gaffe in the 1993 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball championship game. Up 73-71, with 11 seconds left, Webber called timeout giving UNC a pair of free throws to knot the game. The Tar Heels won the game, 77-71.
MORTON CREEPING UP ON 1,000: Through six games, senior Casey Morton has 946 career points. She is vying to become the fourth player in UMES women's basketball history to break the 1,000-point barrier. If Morton replicates last season's average of 9.3 points per game, she would join the club by the 12th game of the season at Savannah State on Jan. 5. Monica Felder, `89, April McBride, `10 and Sondra Cockfield, `90 are the three to accomplish the feat at UMES.
MS. 100: Casey Morton drained her 100th career 3-pointer against Syracuse on Dec. 1. Needing just two coming into the game, the senior point guard reached the milestone with 12:06 left in the second half. The shot, coming on a fastbreak, reduced the SU lead to 51-31. Morton's first trey gave UMES its last of three one-point leads in the game - 14-13 with 13:12 remaining in the first half. Morton finished 2-for-5 from downtown on the night. She is now 103-for-376 (27.4 percent) from distance in her career.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES: UMES shot a sizzling 10-for-17 (58.8 percent) from 3-point range against UMBC in the season opener, a far cry from the 9-for-40 (22.5 percent) performance the Lady Hawks displayed against the Retrievers in the 2009-10 season opener, a 102-65 loss at the RAC Arena. UMES shot over 55 percent from beyond the arc in the game on Nov. 14 for the first time since going 5-of-9 (55.6 percent) from downtown in the season finale of the 2008-09 campaign, a 55-52 win over Delmarva Peninsula rival Delaware State on March 9, 2009.
DEFENDING THE THREE: UMES leads the NCAA and MEAC in 3-point field goal defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 18.4 percent (16-for-87) from downtown. The Lady Hawks even held Syracuse - a very good shooting team - to 1-for-23 from beyond the arc. The Orange missed its first 20 from long range before SU's La'Shay Taft finally sank one with 7:34 to play.
AGBASI TOP SHOT BLOCKER: Even though junior Adobi Agbasi missed the first five games of last season recovering from a shoulder injury, she still managed to lead the MEAC in blocks per game. The 6-foot-2 native of Columbus, Ga., swatted 1.5 shots per game. Agbasi also recorded four of the top seven single-game block totals in the conference in 2009-10, including a season high of five at Norfolk State on Feb. 6. This year, Agbasi is currently sixth in the conference in the category, with five total blocks in six game for an average of 0.8 per game. She tallied a career-high six rejections at home against Syracuse as a freshman on Nov. 15, 2008.
MORTON A POSITIVE FOR UMES: Senior guard Casey Morton was the only UMES player to end last season having a positive plus/minus rating. The plus/minus figure is a comparison of the Lady Hawks' points scored (plus) versus their points allowed (minus) while a specific player is on the floor. Morton was on the floor for 1,286 points for and 1,281 against for a plus-5 total. So far this season, UMES players have either positive or even plus/minus ratings. The Lady Hawks are led in the category by reserve guards Sha-Kiyla Finney (plus-12) and Latoya Buckner (plus-7). The top plus/minus lineup for UMES this year has been Chena Parker, Amber Cook, Kwinnyata Mercer, Adobi Agbasi and Buckner for a plus-11 combination.
HOW MUCH YOU BENCH?: The Lady Hawks bench outscored UMBC, 28-13, in the season opener, getting 11 and nine points, respectively, from junior transfer Kwinnyata Mercer and senior Latoya Buckner. UMES was able to spread the minutes around playing 12 of 15 on the roster, while the Retrievers used just nine players - four off the bench - for a total of 50 minutes. UMES also outscored Syracuse in bench points, 18-15, in the 73-50 loss on Dec. 1, to control two of five "specialty statistics" for the game. The Lady Hawks chalked up their most decisive victory in bench scoring versus Towson on Saturday, besting the Tigers' non-starters, 35-17. The UMES bench has outscored the opponents' bench by a 102-71 count so far this season.
MORTON DOES THE DISHES: Casey Morton has tallied at least one assist in 89 of her 92 career games played in three-plus seasons. In fact, she had a 62-game assist streak snapped last season in a 53-50 loss to Iona at the Hytche Center on Dec. 7. Morton finished 13th in the MEAC in assists per game at 2.6 last season and recorded a career-high seven assists at home against North Carolina Central on Jan. 27. She had 74 assists last season and dished out her 250th career assist against UMBC on Nov. 14.
MISSED IT BY THAT MUCH: Senior guard Casey Morton scored 11 points and pulled down a career-high nine rebounds - seven on the defensive glass - against UMBC on Nov. 14, just missing her first career double-double in her 87th game. Senior center Chena Parker nearly turned the trick against Towson on Saturday as well, collecting 10 points and nine rebounds against the Tigers. The Lady Hawks are still without a double-double this season after recording no fewer than 11 in 2009-10. Parker accomplished the feat twice against Winston-Salem State on Jan. 11 and Norfolk State on Feb. 6 and has three total in her UMES career.
WELCOME BACK, CHELSEA: Chelsea Sanders returned to the floor after missing the last 11 games of 2009-10, earning a start at the 4-spot against UMBC in the opener. The 6-foot-1 forward who was the Lady Hawks' second-leading scorer last season, averaging 11.1 points per game, did not play due to coach's decision. Sanders, though, came back strong versus the Retrievers. She tallied nine points and five rebounds and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the free-throw line.
DOUBLE-FIGURE MORTON: Casey Morton has recorded 52 double-figure scoring games in her career. She tallied 13 games with 10-or-more points in 2009-10. She had her season-high of 19 versus Delaware State in the MEAC Tournament. She has totaled the most games in double digits among the returners as sophomore Chelsea Sanders collected the second-most such games with nine in just 17 total games.
FIRST TIME, LONG TIME: With the 64-52 win over UMBC on Nov. 14, the Lady Hawks opened the season with a win for the first time in a decade. The last season-opening victory was against Mississippi Valley State on Nov. 19, 2001 by a score of 63-61.
HOLD `EM TO 60: With the 58-56 overtime win over Long Island on Dec. 8, UMES improved 59-25 (.702) in head coach Fred Batchelor's tenure when holding an opponent to 60 points or fewer. Nine of UMES' 12 wins last season and both victories this season came when it did just that. The seventh-year head coach's best mark when limiting the opposition to 60 points was 13-1 during the 2005-06 campaign. The only blemish on the record came in a 60-53 loss to No. 16/18 Temple at home on Nov. 29, 2005.
TOUGH SLATE: UMES will play a schedule that features games against six teams that advanced to postseason last year. UMES travels to the Carrier Dome on Dec. 1 to face Syracuse, a WNIT quarterfinalist. UMES will also head to the LJVM Coliseum to visit WNIT-qualifier Wake Forest on Dec. 20. On Dec. 22, UMES goes to Charlotte to play the 49ers. Charlotte was beaten by MEAC runner-up N.C. A&T - a team that UMES hosts on Feb. 7 - in the second round of the WNIT. American comes to the Hytche Center as well on Jan. 2. The Eagles fell in the WNIT first round. UMES plays at Hampton, the MEAC's lone representative in the NCAA Tournament on Jan. 31 on ESPNU.