UMKC No Easy Task For Travelling Lady'Backs

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' women will step out of the Southeastern Conference tonight to play Missouri-Kansas City of the Mid-Continent Conference.

The Lady Razorbacks (12-6, 2-5 SEC) hope to build on the momentum of having won two of their last three SEC games.

Missouri-Kansas City (6-11, 3-4 MCC) has only eight active players, but boasts a 78-70 win over Western Kentucky.

Arkansas beat Western Kentucky just 83-79, so UA coach Susie Gardner is wary of the Lady Kangaroos.

"Missouri-Kansas beat a very good team (WKU) that might win its conference," Gardner said. "I'm sure they'll be fired up to have an SEC team coming to their gym."

Katie Houlehan, a 5-foot-9 UMKC senior guard who averages 14.9 points per game, caught Gardner's attention on tape.

"Houlehan can post you up or shoot the 3-point shot," Gardner said. "But we can't just focus on her, because Missouri-Kansas City is pretty balanced."

Lady Kangaroos first-year coach Bo Overton, a former Oklahoma assistant, can also call on 5-8 guard Jowan Ortega (10.4 average) and 6-1 center Liz Obrecht (10.2) for scoring.

By contrast, Arkansas has no one averaging as many as 10 points a game.

UA guards Kristin Peoples and Rochelle Vaughn average 9.8 and 9.6 points per game, respectively, while 6-foot sophomore forwards Danielle Allen and Sarah Pfeifer average 8.6 points each.

Adrienne Bush (3.5), Arkansas' fifth starter, will likely be relied upon to contain Houlehan.

Gardner will seek a fast tempo, because the Lady Kangaroos like to walk the ball up the floor and take the shot clock down below 10 seconds on each possession.

"They even run some four-corners offense -- which you don't see much anymore," Gardner said.

Gardner's own X's and O's have changed since Arkansas lost post players Kristin Moore and Ruby Vaden for the season with knee ligament injuries.

"This is an adjustment for me," Gardner said. "I like an itinerary in practice. Today we spent the last 16 minutes teaching (6-foot junior guard) Melissa Hobbs the low post position. We have to prepare for that, but it's not something you're usually doing at the end of January."

Gardner said she thought the Lady'Backs played "as hard and as well as we could" in a 61-49 win over South Carolina on Sunday.

She said she was looking forward to the bus trip to Kansas City, Mo.

"I love bus trips," Gardner said. "I'm a bus-trip kind of coach. You get to bond with the team. Also, we have potential recruits in that part of the country."

Look for Sheree Thompson, a 5-10 UA junior reserve guard, to play well tonight.

Thompson hit two 3-point shots against South Carolina and seems to be working her way back into the kind of playing time she earned earlier in the season.

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