Eastern Kentucky, who finished last season with a 22-6 overall record (14-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference), led the nation in scoring last year with an 88.4 average. Despite their generally successful season, they missed the NCAA tournament when they were upset by Morehead State in the first round of the OVC tournament. The Lady Colonels continued their high-scoring ways in their only exhibition game this season, defeating the Sports Reach Crusaders by a score of 127-60.
The Lady Colonels return three starters from last year's team, including two of their top three scorers. 5'11 senior forward Charlotte Sizemore (12.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.0 apg) and 5'6 sophomore guard Katie Kelly (10.3 ppg, 3.1 apg) and 5'10 senior guard Zoey Artist (9.9 ppg, 2.4 apg, 4.1 rpg) are likely to lead the team this year.
Although EKU didn't rely heavily on 3-point shooting, five returning players hit at least ten 3-point shots during the year. Overall, their shooting percentage was about average at 44.2%, but they averaged 72 field goal attempts per game, nearly 20 more than Vanderbilt's 53 attempts per game. After the exhibition game, Coach Larry Joe Inman commented that "we'll have to be a lot more patient on offense" against Vandy.
In that exhibition game, six Lady Colonels scored in double figures. Artist was leading scorer with 23 points, followed by Sizemore with 15, 6-0 freshman forward Miranda Eckerle with 14, Kelly and 6'3 junior center Jill Perry with 13 each, and 5'9 junior Teresa McNair with 11. This balanced scoring attack typifies Coach Inman's approach to the game. Last year, nine players averaged more than 10 minutes a game, and scoring was correspondingly balanced.
The Commodores will most likely start their five returning starters from last year: 6'6' junior center Chantelle Anderson, 6'3 sophomore forward Jenni Benningfield, 6'2 senior forward Zuzi Klimesova, 5'6 junior point guard Ashley McElhiney and 6'1 senior guard Jillian Danker.
The Commodores will have a marked height advantage over the Colonels. Eastern Kentucky has only two players over 6 feet tall -- 6'5 sophomore center Lindsay McClellan and 6'3 junior center Jill Perry -- but last year, they both averaged less than 10 minutes per game. It's likely that for much of the game, the Lady Colonels will have no more than one player over 6' on the court.
Vanderbilt didn't play any exhibition games this year. Last Saturday, the Commodores held a "controlled scrimmage" with David Lipscomb which allowed for some additional coaching opportunities against unfamiliar opponents, but fans haven't yet seen any of the newcomers on the court. Freshman Tia Battle missed much of preseason practice due to a knee sprain and a viral infection, so she may not be able to play, but if game circumstances permit, fans will likely get a look at the others.
Gametime is 7 p.m. Friday in Memorial Gymnasium. The winner of this game will advance to the second round to play the winner of the Oregon State/Loyola Marymount game.
Women's Hoops: Dores Open Tonight vs EKU!
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