December 31, 2002
USI women's basketball looking to get back on track with return to GLVC action
The University of Southern Indiana women's basketball team will be looking to get back on track this Thursday, January 2, and Saturday, January 4, as it travels to Romeoville, Illinois, and Edwardsville, Illinois, for a pair of Great Lakes Valley Conference games. The Screaming Eagles (4-7, 2-2 GLVC) will face Lewis University (5-5, 1-3 GLVC) on Thursday before heading to Edwardsville to take on Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (5-4, 2-1 GLVC) on Saturday.
Both games will be crucial for the Eagles as they enter the weekends action on the heels of a three-game loosing streak—their longest since the 1999-2000 season when they ended the season with four straight losses. All the losses came to schools within the region, so a strong performance in conference play will be vital for USI's post-season chances. USI is currently tied for fourth in the GLVC.
"Everything you do you try to do for the league," head coach Rick Stein said. "Our early schedule is built toward conference play and after that it is games building toward January and February again for the league. We are excited and focused in on going into the conference play."
Leading the charge for the Eagles is senior forward/center Africa Sherrod (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida) and junior forward Shajuan Lindsey (Midlothian, Illinois). Sherrod is averaging 14.1 points and a team-best 11.7 rebounds per game while her nine double-doubles lead the GLVC. Lindsey is leading the team with 14.5 points per game and has recorded a team-high 16 blocks.
"There has been a lot of talk about Africa and the double-doubles," Stein said. "She had a great string as far as the double-doubles are concerned. I think Shajuan has been our most consistent player, though. Night in and night out, she has led us in a lot of different categories. Her blocked shots, her steals, her assists, and her rebounds have been strong. She is also a double-figure scorer for us."
USI is sure to face a stronger challenge than in years past as it will face a Lewis squad that has greatly improved its offensive production. Last season, the Flyers averaged 62.9 points a game and shot just 39.4 percent from the floor. This season, Lewis is averaging 73.6 points per game and is shooting 43.7 percent from the field.
"They (Lewis) are under a new coach and they have a lot of players back from last season," Stein explained. "They like to run up and down the court and the style has worked out well for them. They beat a couple of the premiere teams in the region in Ferris State and Northern Michigan."
The Flyers, 10 games into the season, need only two more wins to tie their winning total (7) from last season.
Leading the way for Lewis is junior forward Bryanne Callahan and senior forward Faith Smith. Callahan is averaging a team-high 13.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while Smith is not far behind with 12.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest.
USI has won six straight over the Flyers and leads the all-time series 23-16.
Stopping SIUE's senior forward Ruth Kipping will be USI's toughest challenge on Saturday as she enters the weekend's action averaging 22.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. "Kipping is not just one of the best players in the conference, but she is one of the best players in the country," Stein said. "She is a player that is going to get 20 and 10 night in and night out. She has that capability to score 30 for them on any given night."
Junior guard Jessica Robert and senior forward Liz DeShasier are also threats in SIUE's arsenal. Robert is averaging 9.8 points and a team-best 5.6 assists per outing while DeShaiser is contributing 9.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
USI leads the all-time series with the Cougars, 19-17.
Thursday's contest with Lewis is slated for a 5:15 p.m. start while Saturday's game with SIUE is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start. The Eagles will return home