WOMEN’S HOOPS: Team looks to avoid second-ever Big Easy beating

J. Michael Moore

One is the loneliest number.

But the Lady Toppers aren’t scrambling to give a particular “one” any company on the stat sheet.

Western is 22-1 all time against the New Orleans Privateers, that lone blemish coming last year in Diddle Arena — a 75-72 defeat.

The teams will face off again at 7 tonight in the Big Easy. But securing a victory over the Privateers might not be a Big Easy for the Lady Toppers.

After starting the season 1-7, New Orleans (5-9, 2-1) has won four of its last six games.

Privateer head coach Joey Favaloro said his team will have a good chance of defeating the Lady Toppers, if they stick to the appropriate game plan.

He said the Privateers need to run the court and score over 70 points to win. They will also have to improve on a foul shooting percentage which ranks last in the Sun Belt Conference.

New Orleans is also scraping the cellar in the field goal and three-point percentage categories.

Favaloro said switching to a full-court, transition game could take advantage of the Lady Toppers’ lack of depth.

“They have been playing with nine people,” Favaloro said. “If that’s the situation we want to see how well their seventh, eighth and ninth players play. We have to play up-tempo and less half-court set.”

Western forward Shala Reese said fatigue has not been a problem and most teams have looked to exploit the Lady Toppers in a half-court scheme – not by running straight at them.

“Some teams may want to run with us,” Reese said. “If they run with us, then we can run with the best of them. It hasn’t become a problem yet.”

What could become a problem is the Privateers’ post play, led by Joevone Markey, a 6-foot-3 sophomore who averages just over five points and five rebounds per game.

That has Western head coach Mary Taylor Cowles particularly worried.

“She’s very solid and has a great inside presence,” Cowles said.

Markey has 19 blocks on the season. She also dunks in practice and could be the first women’s basketball player to dunk in a game as a sophomore.

Guard/forward Lora Ruddy is another threat on the wing, highlighting an athletic Privateer backcourt.

Ruddy is a mark of versatility, leading the team in rebounds to go with 19 blocks.

Cowles sees New Orleans as one of the most balanced and athletic teams her Lady Toppers could face this season.

The Privateers are led in scoring by Monique Taylor, a former California junior college player of the year, who is averaging 13 points in her first Division I season.

Taylor is 15th in the conference in scoring and poured in a career-high 26-points in New Orleans’ 81-59 loss to Tulane Monday night.

But the Lady Toppers (7-7, 2-1) appear to have every potential edge on the stat sheet, boasting the conference’s first- and fifth-leading scorers — Leslie Logsdon (17) and Reese (15).

Reese also joins Kristina Covington and Tiffany Porter-Talbert to place three Lady Toppers in the conference’s top ten on the rebounding list.

Those are numbers Cowles and company don’t seem to mind.

Continuing the swing

The Lady Toppers will continue the conference road trip Saturday at 7 p.m. in Mobile, Ala., where they will face South Alabama (9-6, 1-2).

South Alabama is 6-0 at home.

Reach J. Michael Moore at [email protected]