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December 26, 2001

Eagles looking to continue momentum heading into second half run

When the 10th-ranked University of Southern Indiana womenís basketball team takes the court this Friday evening, against the University of Illinois-Springfield, it will be looking to continue the momentum it gained with a convincing 100-84 victory over 14th-ranked Northern Michigan University, back on December 18. The Screaming Eagles are sitting at 9-3, 4-2 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, as they head to the midway point of the regular season.

Through 12 games, the Eagles have dominated their opponents with a fast-pace offense and a stifling defense. The Eagles are averaging 83.9 points and forcing 30.3 turnovers per contest. In just two games this season has an Eagle opponent escaped the gym with fewer than 27 turnovers.

The Eaglesí strength of schedule cannot be blamed for USIís success either. In the first 12 games, USI has faced four ranked teams and has been on the road for four of its six conference games. Not included in the list of ranked opponents is ninthranked South Dakota State University, which was unranked when it played USI at the Division II Tip-off Classic in Disney World.

Head coach Rick Stein understands that the Eagles will need to carry that experience and the momentum into the second part of the season. "Coming off a great win against a region power, we would like to carry over that play into the second part of the season, starting with Springfield."

To do so, the Eagles must continue to get great play from sophomore forward Jessica Stuckman (Quincy, Illinois) and senior guard Jasmine Moore (Chicago, Illinois). Stuckman leads the team and the GLVC with 21.6 points per contest and has grabbed a team-high 6.5 rebounds per outing. Moore is second on the squad with 13.7 points per game and has a team leading 4.2 assists and 3.5 steals per contest.

The Eagles must also get solid play out of junior forward/center Africa Sherrod (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida) as well as seniors Casey Hughes (Bicknell, Indiana) and Michelle Irwin (Louisville, Kentucky). Sherrod is averaging 12.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game while Hughes is dishing in 10.4 points and 3.3 rebounds per outing. Irwin is tapping in with 9.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest.

USIís first obstacle will be a speedy Illinois-Springfield team that is making some defensive noise as well. The Prairie Stars, who enter Fridayís contest with a record of 7-8, are forcing 28.2 turnovers per game and averaging 78.2 points per outing.

Leading the charge for UIS is senior guard Laura Criswell and senior forward/center Prudie Edwards. Criswell is leading the team with 17.3 points per contest while Edwards is dishing in 13.2 points and a team-high 11.0 rebounds per game. Senior forward/center Toyia Grisby is adding 11.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per outing for the Prairie Stars.

Fridayís tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Physical Activities Center. The Eagles will close the first half of the season and their non-conference schedule Sunday, December 30 as they travel to Big Rapids, Michigan to take on regional foe Ferris State University.

Dan McDonnell,
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