March 3, 2010

By Amy Farnum

No. 8 Delta State is gunning for a record fifth straight Gulf South Conference title this week as the Lady Statesmen begin tournament action on March 4 against West Alabama.

Sophomore forward Veronica Walker was recently named GSC West Division Player of the Year after pacing the nation in field goal percentage (.669), and leading the league with 2.64 blocked shots per game and 10 double-doubles.  Walker, who is averaging 20.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, joined junior guard Bug Cooper on the All-GSC First Team.  Cooper is the nation’s leader in assists per game (8.6).

Delta State has collected 15 conference titles in program history, more than the rest of the GSC members combined.  The Lady Statesmen have won four straight titles on three separate occasions, but never five consecutive championships.  Over the last four year stretch, DSU has advanced to the NCAA Round of 16 four times and appeared in the NCAA semifinals in 2008 and 2009.

Great Lakes Valley Conference Player of the Year Samantha Meissel showed why she was voted as the league’s best player as she contributed a game-high 22 points in the No. 3 University of Indianapolis’ 94-66 quarterfinal win over Missouri-St. Louis on Feb. 28.

Meissel connected on 9-of-12 field goals as she became just the sixth player in program history to reach the 1,500-point career mark.  She leads the GLVC with a 19.6 scoring average, and ranks third in the league with a 56.7 field goal percentage.  

The tournament victory propelled the Greyhounds in to the GLVC semifinals on March 6 where they will face Wisconsin-Parkside.  The winner will tangle with the winner of Drury-Lewis for the league title the next day.

Ninth-ranked Lander racked up its school-record 25th victory of the season with an 89-70 defeat of UNC Pembroke in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament on March 2, earning a spot in semifinal game against Clayton State on Saturday.

Lander, the two-time defending PBC champions, has won seven straight tournament games dating back to 2008.  Tasheba Butler’s stellar performance sparked the Lady Bearcats with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, including 12 points in the second half.

The Lady Bearcats have won 18 of their last 19 contests with the only set back coming at No. 17 Francis Marion on Feb. 17.
BEAR TRACKS:  Fresh off its first-ever outright South Atlantic Conference regular season title, No. 24 Lenoir-Rhyne enters the first round of league tournament play on a six-game winning streak.  L-R will host eighth-seeded Brevard on March 3 – a team the Bears defeated twice in the regular season.  

With its win over Mars Hill last weekend, L-R reached the 20-win mark for the second straight year.  It was the first time since a string of four 20-win seasons that ended in 1981-82 that the program has accomplished the feat.

The Bears, who have compiled a 10-0 record at home this season, are the defending SAC Tournament champions.

WORTH NOTING:  Top-ranked Gannon – the only remaining unbeaten team in Division II women’s basketball – won its 31st straight contest in an 81-67 defeat of Edinboro on March 2 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference quarterfinals.  The Lady Knights will host the PSAC championship round facing Kutztown in the league semifinals on March 5 … Franklin Pierce University’s Johannah Leedham needs just 29 points to become the all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division II women’s basketball history after contributing 29 points in a 79-68 win versus New Haven in the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament quarterfinals on March 2.  Leedham, the 2010 NE-10 Player of the Year, has 2,857 career points.  The Ravens will host the remainder of the league tournament beginning March 5 with a semifinals match-up versus fourth-seeded Bentley.