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October 31, 2005

Eagles open with Columbus State in Orlando

Game Notes (pdf.)

EVANSVILLE, Ind.—The University of Southern Indiana women's basketball team opens its 2005-06 Friday at 5 p.m. (CST) against Columbus State University in the first round of the Disney Division II Tip-Off Classic in Orlando, Florida.

Friday's opener is the first between USI and CSU since the Lady Cougars defeated the Screaming Eagles, 79-73, in the first round of the 2001 NCAA II Elite Eight.

USI is coming off a frustrating 2004-05 season in which the Eagles finished 14-14 overall and 7-13 in the GLVC.

Seven players from last season's squad return to lead the Eagles into 2005-06. Senior forward Sabrina Brandon (Danville, Illinois) is USI's leading returning scorer after averaging 12.1 points per game in 2004-05, while senior guard/forward Ashley Green (Otterbein, Indiana) is USI's leading returning rebounder after grabbing a team-high 5.6 rebounds per contest a year ago. Senior guard Tiara Brown (Normal, Illinois) averaged a team-best 4.2 assists per game last season.

USI also is excited about the return of medical redshirt freshman Jessica Minnick (Carmi, Illinois). Minnick averaged 14.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game before a knee injury sidelined her after just five games.

The Eagles also are welcoming seven newcomers—five transfers and two freshmen—to their 2005-06 squad.

CSU is one of five teams in this year's Disney Division II Tip-Off Classic that played in the NCAA II Tournament last season. The Lady Cougars were 20-11 overall and 11-5 in the Peach Belt Conference in 2004-05 and lost in the first round of the NCAA II South Atlantic Tournament.

USI's possible second round opponents include No. 6-ranked Merrimack College and the No. 4-ranked University of North Dakota. Merrimack was 29-6 overall, 18-4 in the Northeast-10, in 2004-05 and lost in the semifinals of the NCAA II Elite Eight.

UND was 25-6 overall, 10-2 in the North Central Conference, a year ago and lost in the semifinals of the NCAA II North Central Region Tournament. The Fighting Sioux defeated the Eagles in the 1997 NCAA II Championship game.

Games in the other half of the bracket include Augusta State University and the University of Nebraska-Omaha as well as Bentley College and Regis University.

Dan McDonnell,
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