FORT SMITH — It’s only two weeks into the regular season, and already, the UAFS women’s basketball team is beginning Heartland Conference play.
UAFS will make a three-day, two-game swing through the Lone Star State this week when it plays at St. Edward’s on Thursday in Austin, Texas, and at McMurry on Saturday in Abilene, Texas.
It will be the second and third consecutive road games for the Lady Lions (0-4), who are coming off a 61-55 road loss at Henderson State on Saturday.
Normally, conference play doesn’t begin until January, but with recent conference expansion, there are now 11 conference teams – seven active NCAA Division II members and four provisional members. As a result, conference play begins much sooner to accommodate the expanded league schedule.
Tip-off for Thursday’s game against the Hilltoppers will be 5:30 p.m., while tip-off for Saturday’s game will be 1 p.m. Saturday’s game will be broadcast on KFPW-AM 1230 and via the Internet at www.sportshog1031.com.
UAFS, which was picked to finish sixth in the conference, is averaging 59 points per game. Freshman forward Justyne Huber leads the Lady Lions in scoring with 12.5 points per game.
Opponents are out-rebounding the Lady Lions by almost five rebounds per game (43-38.5). Freshman post Kaitlyn Hopkins and sophomore post Blandine N’Goran lead the Lady Lions with 5.5 rebounds per game, while Huber is averaging five rebounds per game.
UAFS is allowing 72 points per game and forcing 21 turnovers per game, including almost 11 steals per game.
St. Edward’s (4-0), which was picked to finish fourth in the conference, is averaging a gaudy 91.5 points per game with four players averaging double-figures in scoring – junior guard Maddie Wheeler (17), senior forward Erika Rousculp (14), freshman guard Mileka Loydrake (12.5) and senior guard Stephanie Dekkers (10.3).
The Hilltoppers are out-rebounding their opponents by almost 12 rebounds per game (52.3-40.5). Rousculp leads the Hilltoppers with 9.8 rebounds per game, while senior forward Valencia White is averaging nine rebounds per game.
St. Edward’s is allowing just 53.5 points per game and forcing 28.5 turnovers per game, including 13.5 steals per game.
McMurry (0-4) is a provisional NCAA Division II member and are ineligible to compete for the conference title or qualify for postseason play. The WarHawks are averaging only 50 points per game. Keshia Collins leads McMurry in scoring with 17.5 points per game.
Opponents are out-rebounding the WarHawks by almost four rebounds per game (38.8-35.2). Collins leads the team with 6.3 rebounds per game.
McMurry is allowing 65.8 points per game and forcing 17.2 turnovers per game, including 11 steals per game.