Story contributed by Dave Beyer, McMurry Sports Information Director
FT. SMITH, Ark. – For the McMurry University women’s basketball team, this weekend’s beginning of the second round of Heartland Conference games is an opportunity for her team to hit the “reset button” for the 2013-14 campaign. The War Hawks will play at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith on Thursday (Jan. 23/5:30 p.m.) and at Rogers State (in Claremore, Okla.) on Saturday (Jan. 25/1 p.m.).
A rocky start to the season (2-13 overall and 2-7 in the Heartland) has not dimmed McM’s view of its campaign, as the team sits in eighth place in the HC standings. In fact, the War Hawks have grown and matured in their basketball savvy through the tough slate of games, thus far.
“We’re just growing and learning every day,” McM head coach Veronica Snow said. “We knew during this transition (to NCAA II) that’s what it would have to be. We’d bring in some young kids. We went that route – versus just bringing in some transfers – and trying to grow those young women.
“The girls are firmly committed and ready to move forward.”
UA-Fort Smith (4-12, 4-6 HC) sits just ahead of McM in the standings in seventh place. The Lions are coming off of a 74-59 win over Rogers State last Saturday in Claremore. In its last meeting with McMurry, UAFS won 59-58 in Abilene. Justyn Huber leads the Lions at 10.7 points per game.
RSU (5-12, 2-9 HC) was McMurry’s first win of the season back on November 21, as it topped the Hillcats, 61-56. Rogers has lost four of its last five outings. The tandem of Katy Harsen (17.9 p.p.g.) and Clarissa Cannon (14.7 p.p.g.) lead the Hillcats’ scoring.
McMurry will counter with senior Keshia Collins’ 17.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Collins also tops the War Hawks in assists (1.5 a.p.g.) and steals (2.7 s.p.g.). She has been in double-figure scoring in all but two games this season.
Sophomore guard Sierra Maykus is averaging 9.2 points per contest overall, but that balloons to 11.6 p.p.g. versus Heartland foes.
Tory Salazar and Ana Dominguez contribute 6.3 and 5.8 points per game, respectively. Taylor Russell tallies 3.1 p.p.g. on offense, but is second on the club in rebounds at 4.9 caroms per game.
“(In the first round) we beat Rogers and lost to Fort Smith by one,” Snow explained. “We can play with both of those teams. We’re going down there fully expecting to win. I think we’ll be ready.”