December 17, 2008

Women's Basketball Faces Tough Competition in MTE Caribbean Classic

COMPLETE NOTES: at MTE Caribbean Classic

ANNOUNCEMENT: Due to flight difficulties, the games on Thursday have been pushed back one hour in start times, so the Northern Colorado-Florida State game will now begin at 2:00 p.m. Central instead of 1:00 p.m.

Fun In The Sun

Northern Colorado will play its next three games in Cancun, Mexico, facing some of the best competition since making the move to Division I as they face Florida State, a team receiving votes in the poll, top-ranked Connecticut and Washington on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, respectively. The three games are part of the MTE Caribbean Classic, hosted by Triple Crown Sports. The Bears then get a short holiday break before returning to the hardwood in Butler-Hancock against Johnson & Wales on Dec. 28.

Four In Six

The win over New Mexico State on Tuesday marked the start of a hard-stretch for the Bears as they play four games in six days and travel to another country. This is not the first time the Bears have played in a different country, however, as the 1999-00 squad played three games in Nassau, Bahamas, posting a 3-0 record.

On These Dates

Northern Colorado is 1-4 in games on December 18, 2-4 on the 19th and 3-1 on the 21st in school history. On the 18th, the Bears are 0-1 at home and 1-3 on the road, but this will be the first neutral court game. On the 19th, they are 1-1 at home, 0-2 away and 1-1 in neutral games and on the 21st the records are 2-0 at home, 0-1 on the road and 1-0 in neutral sites.

The Series

Northern Colorado has never faced any team in the MTE Caribbean Classic in Florida State, Connecticut and Washington, however assistant coach Paige Sauer played for the Connecticut Huskies from 1996-2000. 

Scouting The Tournament Field

Up first for the Bears is Florida State, a team that was ranked earlier in the season and is still receiving votes in both the AP and Coaches polls. The Seminoles are 8-2 on the year and winners of their last three games. FSU won the Thanksgiving Tournament at Colorado State, defeating Murray State and Valparaiso en route to the title. Jacinta Monroe leads the team with 15.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, while Cierra Bravard (11.6) and Tanae Davis-Cain (10.5) also average double figures in points. FSU is averaging 72.2 points and 42.9 rebounds per game and is allowing 58.2 points and 32.5 boards a game. They also shoot .434 from the field and .317 from three-point land.

Connecticut is the unanimous number one selection in both polls, posting a perfect 7-0 record. Five of its wins have come at home, while they have played only one true road contest. The Huskies average a nation's-best 92.4 points per game, along with 42.3 rebounds while shooting .555 from the field and .407 from the arc. Opponents are averaging just 56.3 points and 32.0 rebounds while connecting on .346 from the field and .358 from beyond the three-point line. Maya Moore leads the way individually with 18.9 points and 8.7 rebounds, while Tina Charles is right behind her with 18.0 points and 8.6 boards. Renee Montgomery (16.7) and Caroline Doty (10.6) are also averaging double figures in the scoring column.

The Washington Huskies are 3-3 on the year and have won three of their last four contests. Earlier this season, they dropped a 77-66 decision at Weber State. Sami Whitcomb averages a team-best 13.2 points, while Laura McLellan and Kristi Kingma average 10.8 and 10.3, respectively. Heidi McNeill garners a team-best 6.5 rebounds per game. As a team, the Huskies are averaging 69.2 points and 40.8 rebounds, while shooting .395 from the field and .309 from three-point. The opposition is shooting .381 from the field and .289 from the arc while getting 64.3 points and 39.3 rebounds a game.

Last Time Out

Home cooking once again proved beneficial as the Bears defeated New Mexico State 59-50. Sophomore forward Lara Merritt had arguably the best game of her career with 10 rebounds and while the Aggies where mounting a comeback, she took a charge with less than a minute remaining to seal the win. Senior forward Jamie Schroeder led the club with 15 points, while junior Whitley Cox scored 11 and sophomore Courtney Stoermer chipped in 10 points and five assists.

Tenacious D

For the first time this year, Northern Colorado held an opponent to no three-pointers as New Mexico State was 0-for-13 from beyond the arc. The last time the Bears held an opponent without a triple was Feb. 7, 2008 against Weber State when the Wildcats went 0-for-7 from the three-point line. Tuesday marked the fourth time since head coach Jaime White took over the reins the Bears held a team to no three-pointers in a contest.

Prognostication

With her current scoring average of 13.5 points per game this season, junior guard Whitley Cox is on pace to surpass the 1,000 point milestone at Idaho State on February 7. There are 13 1,000 point scorers in Northern Colorado history with the most recent being Danielle Hagen last season. The scoring record is 1,866 points by Missy Borell (1999-03). With her current average, Cox is on pace to end the season with 1,104 points which would place her ninth on the all-time career charts with one year to play.

Second Chances

In her career performance against New Mexico State, sophomore forward Lara Merritt tallied seven of her 10 rebounds on the offensive end of the floor. In her career, Merritt has 29 offensive rebounds in 68 total.

A Helping Hand

Sophomore guard Courtney Stoermer led the game against New Mexico State with five assists. It was the fourth time this year and the 12th time in her career where she had at least five dishes in a contest. She now has 144 career assists for an average of 3.8 per game and at that pace she will appear on the school's all-time top 10 career list before season's end.

Cox Good For 10

Junior Whitley Cox has scored in double figures in seven straight games, with only the first game of the season not with 10 or more. Cox has now scored in double figures in 16 of the last 17 contests, dating back to the finale of the 2006-07 season.

Top Freshmen

True freshmen Cassie Lambrecht and Kaisha Brown are the top two three-point shooting freshmen in the Big Sky Conference. Lambrecht leads the conference, connecting on .636 (7-of-11) of her shots, while Brown is tied for 11th in the league at .375 (9-of-24). The Bears have four players ranked in the top 11 in three-point field goal percentage.

Moving On Up

Junior Whitley Cox made three more free throws against New Mexico State giving her 200 for her career. Last week, she moved into ninth in Northern Colorado history, passing Sandy Dorn's (1993-97) 196. With one more she will tie Cathy Bowles (1995-99) on the list with 201 free throws made.

Double Trouble

Senior Jamie Schroeder recorded the first double-double of the season for the Bears with 10 points and 10 rebounds at UMKC. Schroeder now has seven double-doubles in her career at Northern Colorado and has now led the team in rebounds in four of the last five games, bringing her average up to 6.3 per game.

Milestone Markers

Senior forward Jamie Schroeder needs just four points for the 500th of her career and sophomore Courtney Stoermer needs 16 for 400 points.

Boardwork

The Bears have adapted a rebound by committee attitude for this season, as five different players have led the team in rebounding in the eight games. Senior Jamie Schroeder has now led the team four times, while freshman Kaisha Brown, junior Whitley Cox, freshman Courtney Kranz and sophomore Lara Merritt have also led the team once. The Bears have six different players currently averaging over three rebounds a game.

All-Tournament Team

Sophomore guard Courtney Stoermer was named to the odwalla Classic All-Tournament team after averaging 15.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game, while shooting .563 (9-16) from the floor and .818 (9-11) from the free throw line.

Among The Best

Through games played Dec. 14, Northern Colorado ranks 15th in three-pointers made per game (7.7), 28th in three-point field goal percentage (.378) and 36th in field goal percentage (.447). Individually, junior Whitley Cox ranks 26th in free throw percentage (.889), while sophomore Kate Kevorken is 48th in three-pointers made per game (2.6) and sophomore Courtney Stoermer is 56th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.71).

Best In The Big Sky

In the Big Sky Conference statistics, Northern Colorado leads the league in several categories. The Bears rank first in field goal percentage (.447), three-point field goal percentage (.378) and three-point field goals made (7.71) and rank second in scoring offense (69.3), scoring margin (+2.0) and field goal percentage defense (.394). Individually, senior Jamie Schroeder leads the team in field goal percentage (.519) and freshman Cassie Lambrecht leads in three-point field goal percentage (.636).

Youth Is Served

Northern Colorado has the youngest team in the Big Sky Conference this season as 11 of the 16 on the roster are either freshmen or sophomores. Portland State also has 68.8 percent of its roster as either freshmen or sophomores, but the Bears have six freshmen, compared to four for the Vikings. The Bears also have just one senior on the roster in forward Jamie Schroeder.

Century Mark

Northern Colorado topped the century mark in scoring for just the 15th time in school history and the first time since 2002-03 when they scored 101 against San Jose State. The last time the Bears scored over 100 was 103 against NYIT on Dec. 6, 2003. The school record for points in a game is 115 against Norwich on Jan. 5, 1998.

How The Holidays Impact

Usually, Tuesday evenings at Cables Restaurant will be the place to be to hear Coach Jaime White and men's coach Tad Boyle talk about the season. Due to the holiday season, there will be no show Dec. 23, Dec. 30 or Jan. 6.

The Long Ball

Northern Colorado shot .579 from beyond the arc against Air Force, establishing a new school record for three-point field goal percentage (in the Division I era). The Bears made 11-of-19, breaking the old record of .531 (17-32) at Hastings College on Feb. 5, 2004 (minimum 10 makes). Six different Bears made at least one triple.

Gaining Respect

The Big Sky Conference announced the 2008-09 preseason polls for women's basketball and the Bears were chosen to finish fourth by both the coaches and media after finishing fifth a year ago. Montana was picked to repeat as champions, while Portland State and Montana State were nabbed second and third, respectively.

All-Conference Award Winners

Forward Jamie Schroeder was named the 2007-08 Big Sky Newcomer of the Year in a vote by the league's nine head coaches. She also earned honorable mention all-conference honors, while center Danielle Hagen was named to the Big Sky All-Conference Second Team.

Winning Ways

The 14 wins in 2007-08 by Northern Colorado were the most since the 2003-04 season when the university began the reclassification process to Division I (16-11). In 2006-07, the Bears were just 5-24 and 2-14 in Big Sky play, while they finished 14-16 and went 8-8 in league action for the 11th best turnaround in Division I.

Going Streaking

Northern Colorado has now made at least one three-pointer in 215 consecutive games, dating all the way back to Jan. 20, 2001 at South Dakota State.

It's Getting Closer

Northern Colorado continues to inch closer to a large program milestone. The win against New Mexico State marked the 497th win in program history and the team now needs three for 500. The Bears are 497-488 all-time. 

Putting It In Writing

Head Coach Jaime White signed Jayne Strand to a National Letter of Intent recently. As a freshman at Kirkwood Community College, Strand averaged five points and 4.2 rebounds per game in helping the team to the Junior College National Championship. She was a three-sport athlete for the Cyclones of Ames HS, earning four letters in cross country and three each in soccer and basketball. She was a three-time all-conference selection in cross country and an honorable mention all-conference pick in basketball as a senior. She was also a multiple time honor roll selection and a two-time academic all-conference pick.