The East Central University women's basketball team will embark on one of the toughest weeks of the season when they play the first of two-straight games against ranked opponents, Thursday, Jan. 15. The Tigers will travel to No. 22 Harding for a 5:30 p.m. tip-off in Searcy, Ark.
ECU's radio home for Tigers basketball in 2012-13 is Ada's KXFC, 105.5, FM 'The X-Factor'. Kenny Morrison returns to broadcast the games for his 18th season. Morrison, a 1987 ECU graduate, spent two seasons doing color prior to taking over the play-by-play duties during the 1997-98 season.
Fans who can't be at the game can find links to live stats, live video (if available) and the KXFC radio broadcast on ECUTigers.com. Go to the men's basketball schedule page. Fans can listen to the radio broadcast online or through the FREE KXFC App available in ITunes, Google Stores where apps are sold and www.kxfcradio.com.
The Bisons are currently 11-2 overall and one of two teams left in the Great American Conference that is undefeated, at 7-0. Harding has a strong scoring game, averaging 75.9 points per outing and out-scoring its opponents by 18 point per game. That also translates into the shooting percentages, where the Bisons hold a .455 to .347 overall advantage and a .383 to .293 lead in triples.
Harding has two players that are averaging double digits in the scoring column this season and account for 35 percent of the scoring, 34 percent of the shots taken and 21 percent of the rebounds. Arielle Saunders leads the team with 16.3 points and 11.0 rebounds per game, while shooting .570 from the field and adding 40 assists and 21 blocks. Montana Lewis is the second player with 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Lewis shoots .445 from the field and .436 from beyond the arch, while adding 27 assists and 18 steals.
Against the Bisons
In 2013-14 both teams earned a win on their home court, with the Tigers claiming a 61-60 win in overtime against Harding when they were undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the nation.
Seniors Erin Walling and Dilan Webster led the Tiger returners in the series. Walling garnered 13 points and 3.5 boards per game, while Webster added seven points and 6.5 rebounds per outing.
Tabitha Haney and sister A'ndrea Haney lead the returners for the Bisons. Tabitha tallied 7.0 points and 3.0 boards, while A'ndrea contributed 6.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
After splitting the series a season ago, the teams ended the all-time series in a six-all tie. The series dates back to 1998, with Harding having won the last three games on the road.
Coming off the Bench
Most players get excited and do better when they move from an off the bench role to a starting spot, but the opposite has been true for senior Ashleigh Kelman-Poto. She has created a great spark coming off the bench for the Tigers. Kelman-Poto started the first five games of the season and was averaging 8.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, but in the last seven games as the first player off the bench she has increased her output to 11.5 points and 5.6 boards per game.
Tigers Leaving Their Mark
Along with having one of the best records in the NCAA at 10-3, the Tigers are ranked in the top-30 in five other categories and have three players ranked in one category individually in the top-100. ECU is making the most noise in the turnover column, as they are ranked No. 1 with just 10.2 turnovers per game. The Tigers are also No. 5 in assist/turnover ratio (1.30), No. 14 in personal fouls (15.1), No. 12 in turnover margin (6.62) and No. 33 is scoring defense (58.8).
Senior Erin Walling is ranked No. 72 in ATR (1.70), while fellow senior Taylor Fischer is No. 49 in three-point field-goal percentage (42.0) and No. 95 in three-point field goals per game (2.23). The final member in the top-100 is senior Dilan Webster at No. 62 in blocks per game (1.62) and No. 84 in field-goal percentage (49.4).
Resetting the Record Books
Senior Dilan Webster may be the leading blocker for the Tigers, but she is also making a mark for herself in the scoring columns. In the Dec. 6 game against Northwestern, Webster became the 13th player at ECU to earn 1,000 points, currently with 1,085. She is also among five active players in the Great American Conference that have over 800 points and become the fifth player in GAC history to hit the milestone.
Taylor Shaking it Up
Senior Taylor Fischer has moved into her starting role for ECU with strong numbers compared to a season ago. In 2013-14, Fischer averaged 4.4 points and 1.9 rebounds per game and so far in 2014-15 she is netting 12.4 points and 3.2 boards per game.
Fischer Player of the Week
Senior Taylor Fischer has earned the first honor of the season for the Tigers, being named the Great American Conference Player of the Week for Dec. 8. Fischer pushed the Tigers to a 4-0 mark in the GAC as she averaged 17.5 points per game in victories against Southwestern Oklahoma State and Northwestern Oklahoma State last week. Against the Bulldogs, she scored 16 points with three rebounds, three assists and three steals. Against the Rangers, she scored 19 points and she made five 3-point field goals.
First Game/First Win
First-year head coach Matt Cole started out his head coaching career the best way a coach can, with a win in his first game when the Tigers defeated Rogers State 57-54 (Nov. 15, 2014).
Already Atop the Leader Board
Senior Dilan Webster has been a force to deal with on the blocks, as she became the ECU all-time leading blocker before her junior season (2013-14). Webster tallied 30 more blocks a year ago and has 21 this season to move her own school record to 147 career blocks.
The Tigers will continue their big road trip with a stop in Russellville, Ark., to face No. 18 Arkansas Tech, Saturday, Jan. 17 at 1 p.m.
Up Next in Kerr Activities Center
After just a week away, the Tigers will return home for two conference games. ECU will host Southeastern, Thursday, Jan. 22 in the annual Blackout the Power of the Storm game at 5:30 p.m. and then Northwestern Jan. 24 at 1 p.m.