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January 22, 2002

Eagles looking for pay back, first place

It was 10 games ago that the seventh-ranked University of Southern Indiana women’s basketball team lost to then number-one ranked Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, Kentucky. The Screaming Eagles fell to 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

Since then, USI has won nine straight games and heads into its highly anticipated rematch against NKU with a 16-3 overall record and a 9-2 record against GLVC opposition. The Eagles are in second place in the GLVC and a victory over NKU would put them atop the conference standings.

If the Eagles are to be successful, they will need to get the ball to sophomore forward Jessica Stuckman (Quincy, Illinois). Stuckman, a two-time GLVC “Player of the Week” this season, leads the GLVC with 20.1 points per game and is ninth in the league with 6.7 rebounds per outing. More importantly, Stuckman is averaging 18.7 points and 11.3 rebounds in three career games against the Norse of NKU.

USI will not only be battling for GLVC supremacy, but regional positioning as well. The Eagles are currently fourth in the Great Lakes Region, but should move into first or second when the rankings come out on Wednesday.

NKU (13-3 overall, 9-1 in the GLVC) is ranked second in the region, but a home loss to Bellarmine University, USI’s opponent on Saturday, could hinder its chances to move up in the rankings. A win over USI could get the Norse back in the hunt for the top spot in the region.

For the Eagles to be successful, they will need to control the tempo of the game. USI is a fast-pace team that forces its opponents into a lot of turnovers where as NKU is more of a half-court, beat-you-on-the-boards, style of team.

The Eagles, who have won 23 consecutive home games, will need senior guard Jasmine Moore (Chicago, Illinois) to step up in order for the Eagles to be successful. Moore scored 17 points and had a game-high six assists in USI’s first meeting with NKU this season. She is second on the team with 13.4 points and leads the team with 4.3 assists and 3.4 steals per contest.

In their first meeting with NKU, the Eagles shot 40 percent from the floor and forced 22 turnovers, 8.4 less than their season average of 30.4. USI also had just eight assists in the contest.

On the flip side, NKU shot 52.5 percent from the floor (62.5 percent in the second half) and 52.9 percent from behind the three-point arc. NKU also grabbed 41 rebounds to USI’s 37.

Junior forward/center Africa Sherrod (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida) and senior forward Casey Hughes (Bicknell, Indiana) will also need to step up their performances. Sherrod scored 12 points and brought down six rebounds in the first meeting at NKU and is averaging 12.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Hughes scored just four points at NKU, but is adding 10.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per outing this season.

NKU will be without the services of its top player, senior center Michelle Cottrell. Cottrell, who is NKU’s all-time leading scorer, leads the team with 18.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.

NKU will look to junior guard Bridget Flanagan to pick up the scoring slack. Flanagan is averaging 12.8 points per game.

On the boards, NKU needs more from junior forwards Amy Mobley and Kristin Polosky. Mobley is second on the team with 6.1 rebounds per contest while Polosky is third on the squad with 6.0 rebounds per game. The two are averaging 10.7 and 8.8 points per game, respectively.

USI and NKU will meet, for the second time, Thursday, January 24, at the Physical Activities Center. The game is scheduled to start at 5:15 p.m.

Dan McDonnell, USI Sports Information

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