FORT SMITH, Ark. — Making their final appearance in the Stubblefield Center, the 29th-rated Northeastern A&M’s Lady Norse battle the No. 7 Arkansas-Fort Smith Lady Lions tonight at 6 p.m.
After a week off following an 83-59 drubbing of eighth-ranked Connors State College on Feb. 5 in Miami, coach Jim Rowland’s Lady Norse resume action with a 3-1 mark in the Eastern Division of the Bi-State Athletic Conference and a 19-5 overall mark.
Coach Louis Whorton’s Lady Lions are also 3-1 in the Bi-State East while standing 22-2 overall. The Lady Lions defeated Eastern State College 94-59 on Monday in Wilburton.
“Fort Smith did an excellent job of pressuring the basketball when we played the first time,” Rowland said. “They went on that 10-0 run in the first four minutes and we couldn’t ever recover.”
The Lady Lions built a 34-29 lead at halftime en route to a 68-63 victory over the Lady Norse on Jan. 31 in the NEO Fieldhouse.
Despite a 20-point performance from Megan Fraley, the Lady Norse closed to a 64-63 deficit in the final minute before two free throws each by Vasha Sanders and Sheena Johnson sealed the UAFS win. Marisja Brown led the Lady Lions with 18 total points.
“We’ve got to be better prepared in the first five minutes,” Rowland said. “They really used their halfcourt pressure to score 19 points off our turnovers.”
Expected to start in the Lady Norse backcourt will be sophomore Megan Fraley and freshmen Kashei Hopkins and Brittany Woodard.
Fraley (5-7 of Adair) is averaging 15 points and 5.9 rebounds while leading the team with 84 assists and 26 steals.
Hopkins (5-7 of Rockwall, Va.) is scoring 3.4 points per game with 13 assists and two steals.
Woodard (5-8 of Houston, Texas) averages 3.6 points with six assists and seven steals.
Sophomores Rees and Nolisha Markham comprise the Lady Norse front line.
Rees (6-2 of Melbourne, Australia) leads the Lady Norse in scoring with a 17.3 average while grabbing 5.1 rebounds per game.
Markham (5-10 of Tulsa) has a 10.3 scoring mark and a 6.7 rebounding average.
Featuring a veteran backcourt, the Lady Lions are expected to start either Johnson at point guard with sophomores Vasha Sanders and Tracey Parsons on the wings.
Johnson (5-5 of Clinton, Miss.) is averaging 8.8 points with 150 assists and 60 steals.
Sanders (5-8 of Little Rock, Ark.) averages 8.9 points with 58 assists and 56 steals.
Parsons (5-7 of Trenton, N.J.) is averaging 5.7 points with 53 assists and 33 steals.
Sophomores Marisha Brown and Dannah Kemp will start in the blocks for the Lady Lions.
Brown (5-9 of Kansas City, Mo.) leads the Lady Lions with a 14.4 scoring average and a 7.4 rebounding mark.
Kemp (5-6 of Alma, Ark.) has a 7.3 scoring average while grabbing 1.3 rebounds per game.
The Lady Norse conclude the home portion of the regular season next week by hosting Carl Albert State College at 6 p.m. Monday before entertaining Eastern State College on Feb. 19.
The final home game with be Pink Zone Night and Sophomore Night.