ABILENE, Texas – McMurry’s women’s, basketball team will return to action for the first time in 16 days on Thursday (Dec. 19) evening at 5:30 p.m., when it plays host to Newman University in a Heartland Conference contest at Kimbrell Arena. The War Hawks (1-7, 1-1 HC) will also welcome Oklahoma Panhandle State University’s squad to Abilene on Saturday (Dec. 21; 1 p.m.) to complete the week’s slate of games.
McM has not played a game since its loss to Our Lady of the Lake University – the then No. 17-raned team in the NAIA – back on December 2. The War Hawks’ Dec. 7 game at Oklahoma Christian was postponed due to the ice storm that blanketed the area that weekend.
McMurry’s team will be looking for its first victory since its November 21 win over Rogers State. Since then, McM has dropped three straight.
Newman will come in 4-6 overall and 2-3 in the Heartland. Like McM, the Jets have a win over Rogers State to their credit, while also topping UT-Permian Basin in league games. NU has lost Heartland games to Lubbock Christian in the early going, and dropped its last two contests to Texas A&M-International and (66-44) and St. Mary’s (77-70).
Sophomore forward Alexandra Ciabatonni leads the Jets in at 18.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, and has already earned two Heartland Conference “Player of the Week” honors this season. Seniors Cheniqwa Banks (11.6 p.p.g.) and Shekeira Copeland (11.3 p.p.g.) also average in double-figure scoring for Newman.
The all-time series between the schools is tied at 1-1, with both meetings coming last year during McM’s first season on the road to NCAA Division II membership. Each team won on its own floor, with Newman gaining a 63-62 victory in Wichita (Nov. 29, 2012) and the War Hawks returning the favor with a 62-57 win in Kimbrell Arena (Feb. 28, 2013).
Oklahoma Panhandle State enters the weekend slate of games winless (0-10; 0-4 HC) on the year. Prior to coming to Abilene on Saturday, the Aggies will be playing at St. Edward’s University on Thursday evening.
Guard Sarah Johnson is OPSU’s to scorer at 12.4 p.p.g. and ball handler at 3.0 assists per contest, as well. Sharice Papaleo chips in 8.0 p.p.g. and leads her squad in rebounding at 7.3 boards per game.
Last year, McMurry swept both meetings between the teams. McM won 68-41 in Abilene and then registered an 81-67 win in Goodwell, Okla. (in a game delayed a day by winter weather conditions).
McM will try to get back on track behind the efforts of senior forward Keshia Collins. Collins is topping the team in scorings (17.5 p.p.g.), rebounds (6.4 r.p.g.), steals (3.1 s.p.g.) and assists (1.3 a.p.g.). She has proven to be a legitimate scoring threat in all phases, hitting nearly 41 percent from the field, 47 percent from beyond the arc and 77 percent from the free throw line. She has tallied in double figures in each of the War Hawks’ last seven games played.
The guard tandem of sophomore Sierra Maykus and senior Tory Salazar has also been productive for head coach Veronica Snow’s team. Maykus checks in at 7.8 p.p.g. and Salazar at 7.1.
On the year, the McM team has been out-scored by an average of 11 points per game versus a very ambitious schedule, thus far in 2013-14. The War Hawks have also averaged nearly four more turnovers and 3.5 less rebounds per contest than their foes.