WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Logsdon, Reese carrying offensive torch

J. Michael Moore

Leslie Logsdon and Shala Reese are used to the attention.

The pair of Lady Topper forwards have been the punch to their team’s offense and the heart of almost every win.

So prying defensive eyes don’t bother them much. They’ve grown accustomed to it, and thrive on it.

Logsdon, a junior, and Reese, a senior, are leading Western in scoring. They average a combined 33 points per game — 47 percent of the Lady Toppers’ offense.

They also pace the Sun Belt Conference, ranking second and fourth among the league’s top scorers.

Logsdon is the reigning conference player of the week and has averaged 20 points in each of Western’s last two wins.

“There’s always a way I can improve my game,” Logsdon said. “But probably the best I’ve played all season has been in the last two games.”

Reese has been the picture of consistency this season, notching 10 double-doubles and leading the conference in rebounding (9.7 rpg) and field goal percentage (56 percent).

Not bad for a 6’1 post player who chuckles when realizing how much height she gives up on the court.

“When the ball is up in the air it’s anybody’s,” Reese said. “I like to think of it as mine. You have to do the little things. When you’re giving up eight or ten inches you have to do something.”

For the most part, no opposing defense has completely silenced both Logsdon and Reese. But that could change at 6 tonight in Miami, where the Lady Toppers (10-8, 5-2) take on Florida International (14-5, 5-1) for the number one spot in the league’s Eastern Division.

“I know every night they’re going to be focusing on Shala and I,” Logsdon said. “You can’t worry about that … We just have to go out and play our game.”

Reese said any number of Lady Toppers could have big nights at FIU, either adding to the team’s success, or filling her own shoes.

Senior guard Kristina Covington is the constant ‘X-factor,’ always a threat in every game.

But Reese brought up some more interesting scenarios.

“It could be (freshman guard Tiffany Porter-Talbert), she said. “She can get the steal and pressure the ball.”

Reese also thinks freshman forward Krystal Gardner could be a key player in the post who could come open and dominate.

The post will be a key in tonight’s game, with FIU standing at the top of conference rebounding stats and boasting seven players over six foot – including 6’8 senior center Silvia Mesa.

Sophomore forward/center Dace Cinite (6’2) and senior forward Cormisha Cotton (6’3) both average double figures in scoring.

Cotton was also selected as the conference preseason player of the year.

The Golden Panthers are lead by senior Mandy Shafer, a guard/forward who is averaging 15 points per game.

But FIU coach Cindy Russo said her team has been unpredictable on the offensive end.

“We run our offense and the best look gets the shot,” she said. “A few different players have stepped up for us … That makes us hard to scout.

“I’m sure it’s going to be a very competitive game.”

Tonight will be the first of two meetings between the two teams, with FIU visiting Diddle Arena on Feb. 20.

“This is a statement game. If we can beat them on the road then the pressure is on them when they come back here.

“We’re looking at this game as a turnaround to our season. If we beat FIU we’re right back on top.”

Western coach Mary Taylor Cowles said the Lady Toppers are playing about as well as they have all season.

She beams with confidence, and said her team is coming off one of their best games of the season — an 80-54 drubbing of New Mexico State.

“From top to bottom we have to play very well, especially on defense,” Cowles said. “Offensively, we have to take it at them.”

Cowles said Western could have success in the halfcourt even if the the Panthers’ defense breaks down Logsdon and Reese.

She thinks any number of starters or reserves could effect the outcome of the game.

Senior Jennifer Slaughter has shooting ability against a zone defense and junior Elisha Ford has the ability to defend on the breakaway.

“We have other people on this team that can score,” Cowles said. “I think we have other people that can help us.”

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