NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee State women's basketball team is in the hunt for its first win of the 2003-04 season under new head coach Sharon Allen. The Lady Tigers host Alabama A&M at the Gentry Center tonight at 7 p.m.
Last Time Out: Close But No Cigar
Tennessee State nearly picked up its first win of the season over Middle Tennessee on Dec. 15 but it could not convert on crucial shots down the stretch. The final score of the game was 82-63 in favor of the Lady Raiders.
The matchup was filled with several season firsts for the Tennessee State squad, including the most points scored by the Lady Tigers so far this season, the first time four players have scored in double digits and the first time the Lady Tigers have had a first half lead. The game also saw TSU outshoot the Lady Raiders from the free-throw line and outrebound them, 31-29.
MTSU was led by the hot hand of Patrice Holmes, who bagged 31 points en route to the win while the Lady Tigers were led in scoring by senior Kisha Stewart, who netted 16 points.
Welcome to a New Era in TSU Basketball
This season marks the first for the revamped Lady Tiger basketball team under Head Coach Sharon Allen. Allen enters into her fifth year of head coaching overall and her first at Tennessee State in 2003.
Allen comes to the Tennessee State program after spending the last five seasons with Mississippi State. While with the Bulldogs, she served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.
While serving as an assistant, Allen saw players honored as Kodak All-Americans, one SEC Player of the Year, one SEC Freshman of the Year, one Associated Press Freshman of the Year, three SEC First-Team selections and two players tabbed Associated Press All-SEC First-Team. During the 1999-2000 season, the Lady Bulldogs had their first 20-win season in program history and defeated the then-No. 2 ranked team in the country, Louisiana Tech. That same season, Mississippi State was the runner-up in the SEC Tournament.
In postseason action, Mississippi State advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2002 after advancing to the third round of the WNIT the previous season.
She also helped the Lady Bulldogs to their best overall record in school history, 24-8.
Scouting the Bulldogs
Alabama A&M comes into tonight's contest with a 2-3 record after falling to Georgia State on Dec. 14. The Bulldogs were clipped by GSU, 67-60.
The Bulldogs are led by junior LaShowann Smith, who is averaging 16 points per game. She is also the team's leader in rebounding, grabbing 7 boards per game.
Alabama A&M had two players named to the Second-Team All-Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). Forwards Davida Webster and Tamisha Augustin picked up the honors for the team. The Bulldogs were picked to finish sixth in the SWAC behind Jackson State, Alabama State, Alcorn State, Southern and Grambling.
Last Time Against Alabama A&M
Last year in the first-ever meeting between the two programs, Tennessee State was narrowly edged by the Bulldogs, 52-47. Tristin Johnson led the Lady Tigers with a double double, knocking down 11 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
The Lady Tigers outshot Alabama A&M from the floor, 45.5 percent to 27.6 percent but the game was won down the stretch at the free-throw line. The Bulldogs netted 18 of 26 attempts.
For only the second time in women's basketball history at Tennessee State, the Lady Tigers have played the first six games of the season without a win. The last time Tennessee State had this slow of a start was the 1987-88 season. The Lady Tigers went on to finish that campaign with a 0-26 mark under Head Coach Richard Miller.
Walk On In, Step Right Up
Tennessee State has two new members gracing the roster who have come in and made an immediate impact. Sophomore Akeila Joy Thompson, a native of Blytheville, Ark. and freshman Cheri Nash, a native of Atlanta, Ga., are the two newest Lady Tigers.
Thompson, a 5-2 guard, has made appearances against Wright State and UNC-Asheville, recording five minutes and one rebound.
Nash, a 5-4 guard, made her collegiate debut against Wright State, playing one minute off the bench and grabbing one rebound against UNC-Asheville.
Holding Steady in OVC Stats
Four Lady Tigers find themselves among the top of Ohio Valley Conference performers in several categories. Junior Lakisha Clay is ranked No. 2 in steals, taking away an average of two per game. She is also
tied for 13th in assists, with a total of 13 helpers.
Senior Kisha Stewart is 24th overall in scoring, contributing an average of 9.4 points per game. Classmate Odessa Kelly is No. 14 in overall rebounding, pulling down an average of 6.2 per game.
Junior Kendra Bailey is ranked seventh overall in overall rebounding, grabbing 7.4 boards per game. She is also the only Lady Tiger who is among the top shot blockers in the conference. Bailey has a total of five.
The Swat Team
Junior Kendra Bailey is heading up the Lady Tigers' swat squad. She has batted away a team-leading five so far this season.
Captains, My Captains
Two players have been selected co-captain by their teammates and coaches for the 2003-04 campaign -- junior KaSheena Powe and senior Kisha Stewart.
Senior Kisha Stewart continues to lead the Lady Tigers in scoring, averaging 10.5 points per game.
From the charity stripe, senior Odessa Kelly is knocking down 80 percent of her shots (12-15).
Several Lady Tigers are closing in on milestones in their collegiate careers. Senior Odessa Kelly is creeping up on 500 career points. After TSU's matchup with Middle Tennessee, Kelly is just 33 points shy of the mark. Last year, she averaged 11 points per game. Kelly is also nearly 300 career rebounds. Currently, she has a total of 299.
Classmate Zekeya Anderson has nearly 100 assists over her career at Tennessee State. After the Southern Utah contest, Anderson moved to within 12 of crossing the century mark.
Junior Quanecia Fletcher has recorded nearly 100 rebounds in three years with the Tennessee State program. She currently has a total of 87.
KaSheena Powe is on her way to 200 boards by the end of this season. The junior currently has 130 rebounds under her belt, averaging nearly 60 a year.
Around the Ohio Valley Conference
Southeast Missouri State was picked to take the 2003-04 crown by Ohio Valley Conference women's head basketball coaches and sports information directors.
The Otahkians edged out last year's champion, Austin Peay, by just six points in the voting. Eastern Kentucky, Tennessee Tech and Morehead State rounded out the top five selections.
As of Dec, 17, league newcomer Samford continues to hold the top spot in the OVC with a record of 5-2. Eastern Kentucky won its home opener with a victory over Western Carolina, 93-71. Also coming away with wins were Tennessee Tech, defeating UAB, 63-56, and Morehead State knocking off the College of Charleston, 73-56.
Up Next for the Lady Tigers
Tennessee State will return to action on Dec. 20 as it travels to Mississippi to take on Jackson State. Game time is set for 3 p.m. The Lady Tigers will be off for the holiday until January 5, 2004 when they travel to Alabama to take on Birmingham Southern.