The top-seeded West Texas A&M Lady Buff women’s basketball team opens the 2016 Lone Star Conference Women’s Basketball Championship Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. versus No. 8-seed Midwestern State at the Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas.
OPENING TIP QUICK HITS
· The Lady Buffs won their 14th overall and third-straight Lone Star Conference regular season title with a 64-58 win at Eastern New Mexico Saturday
· WT is 24-3 overall and finished LSC play with a 13-3 record and will be the top-seed in the Lone Star Conference Women’s Basketball Championship
· WT is ranked 12th in the USA Today Poll and ninth in the D2 SIDA Poll
· The Lady Buffs will face arch rival Midwestern State in the first round as MSU is the #8-seed
· This is a rematch of last season’s LSC Championship Game in which WT won 73-70 for back-to-back LSC Tournament titles for the Lady Buffs
· WT and Midwestern State have met in the conference tournament each of the last three seasons as the met in the championship game in 2013, semifinals in 2014, championship in 2015 and now in the quarterfinals in 2016
· The Lady Buffs are 47-14 (.778) all-time in the Lone Star Conference Championship and 13-6 in the final
· The Lady Buffs have won six-straight LSC tournament games and eight of nine over the last three years, while reaching the final each year (2-1)
SETTING THE SCENE – The Lady Buffs are going for their 14th conference tournament championship and third-straight as they open the 2016 LSC Championship with rival Midwestern State Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Allen Event Center. WT is the top-seed for the third-straight year, while Midwestern State is the eight-seed. The teams have met in each of the past three LSC championships, twice in the championship game and once in the semifinals (WT, 2-1).
PREVIEWING THE LSC CHAMPIONSHIP
The Lady Buffs are the top seed in the championship, followed by Angelo State who will play No. 7-seed Eastern New Mexico at 12 p.m. on Wednesday and the Lady Buffs and MSU will battle at six. On Thursday, No. 3-seed Texas Woman’s will face No. 6-seed Cameron at 12 p.m. and No. 4 Tarleton State will take on No. 5 Texas A&M-Commerce at 6. If the Lady Buffs were to defeat Midwestern State, they would face the winner of the Tarleton State/Texas A&M-Commerce game Friday at 6 p.m. for a berth in the championship game set for Saturday at 3 p.m.
how to catch the gameS
There will be live stats and streaming links at www.gobuffsgo on the women’s basketball schedule page. The game also will have radio on the home of Lady Buff women’s basketball Jack FM 98.7 KPRF with Neil Horn having the call. There also will be a link to an audio broadcast on the internet of Horn’s call.
LAST TIME OUT
The Lady Buffs had their hands full with Eastern New Mexico on Saturday, but came away with a 64-58 win and the outright league championship. It wasn’t easy, however, as on senior night for the Greyhounds, ENMU shot a blistering 52.4 percent in the first half and 42.9 percent for the game. WT struggled shooting a season-low 35.7 percent for the game on 20 of 56. The Lady Buffs also struggled from the line, going 18 of 29 (.621), but forced the Greyhounds into 19 turnovers and held an 18-6 lead in points off turnovers. WT also won the battle of the boards, out-rebounding ENMU 40-27, including 18-5 in second chance points with a 19-7 margin in offensive rebounds. Junior Maddison Wild paced four Lady Buffs in double figures with her third double-double of the season on 17 points and 11 rebounds, while senior Michaela Neuhaus added 16 points with three triples as did junior Alie Decker. Junior Sasha Watson chipped in 11 points. Neuhaus had a team-high four assists and five steals. ENMU was led by a game-high 22 points from Sarah Stinnett.
ABOUT MIDWESTERN STATE
The Mustangs enter with a 5-21 record overall and finished with a 4-12 mark in LSC play. MSU has dropped its past two games and nine of ten. Leading the way for the Mustangs this season is Whitney Taylor at 12.7 points per game as she is 95 of 229 from the field (.415) and a team-best 38 of 100 (.380) from beyond the arc. Taylor is a team-high 63 of 84 (.750) from the line. Second on the team in scoring is Krishawn Crockett who is averaging 8.5 points per game on 83 of 260 (.319) and 22 of 88 (.250) from beyond the arc. Jennifer Sissel leads the team in rebounding at 5.5 per game, while Kathryn Odom leads the team with 68 assists and Jacquar Westbrooks leads the Mustangs with 29 steals. As a team, the Mustangs are shooting .347 from the field (530-1527), .295 from beyond the arc (124-421) and .657 from the line (287-437). They are averaging 37.5 rebounds per game and scoring 56.6 points per game. The opposition is shooting .442 against them and .378 from beyond the arc, while shooting .672 at the line and averaging 39.2 rebounds per game. The opposition is averaging 70.0 points per game.
INSIDE THE SERIES WITH MIDWESTERN STATE
WT leads the all-time series 44-14 and has won the last four, seven of the last ten and 15 of 20. The Lady Buffs and Mustangs are tied 2-2 in neutral site matchups with WT winning the last two in each of the past two LSC Championships in the semifinals in 2014 and last season in the championship game. WT and Midwestern State have met in the previous three LSC championships with MSU winning the championship game in 2013. Prior to that, the other neutral site matchup came Jan. 30, 1982, in a 60-56 loss at the Texas AIAW Tournament.
HIGHWAY 287 CHALLENGE SERIES
This is an added meeting to the 2015-16 Highway 287 Challenge Series between the two schools. MSU leads the season series 9.5 to 5.5, but there are a possible six points to be earned this week as the softball teams play a four game series in Wichita Falls this week and the men’s basketball teams could potentially play in the semifinals of the conference tournament if both teams advance to Friday. Following this week, the only remaining regular season meetings for the Highway 287 Challenge Series are the men’s and women’s golf conference championships Apr. 18-19 in Frisco, Texas. The winner of those will garner two points for their team as the highest finishing team in the conference tournament standings.
5 THINGS TO WATCH VERSUS MIDWESTERN STATE
· Despite the record, MSU has shown flashes of success this season as it scored 27 points in the final quarter at WT earlier this season after scoring just 41 in the first three quarters combined, beat Tarleton State (56-52) and lost by six to Angelo State late in the season
· The Mustangs are second in the LSC in offensive rebounds per game at 14, ranking 72nd in the nation
· They are fourth in fewest fouls at 471 ranking 116th nationally
· Whitney Taylor leads the LSC in free throw percentage at a 75.0 clip
· MSU shot .367 from the field and .367 from beyond the arc against WT in the two meetings
STRONG AGAINST THE LSC
The Lady Buffs are 49-5 since Feb. 9, 2013, in Lone Star Conference regular season play and have an overall mark of 58-6 overall including both LSC and NCAA playoffs during that span. WT is 27-1 at home (26-1 regular season), 23-4 on the road (regular season) and 8-1 in neutral sites (LSC playoffs). WT is 350-68 all-time in LSC regular season play.
This season marks the fourth-straight year of 20 or more wins. WT has won 30 or more games the last two seasons and have 30 wins in six seasons. The Lady Buffs have not had a losing season since 1980-81 and have won 20 or more games in 27 seasons during that span with a string of nine-straight from 1983-1992.
ABOUT THE LADY BUFFS
The Lady Buffs are led this season by senior Michaela Neuhaus who leads the team averaging 12.7 points per game. She is 115 of 222 from the field (.518) and a blistering 67 of 142 from beyond the arc as she is fifth nationally in 3-point field goal shooting at a .472 clip. Neuhaus is 45 of 49 from the line and is second on the team in assists with 82 and third in steals with 52. She leads the league and is 33rd nationally in assist/turnover ratio at a 2.09 clip, while ranking fourth in the league in assists and third in steals. She is fourth in the LSC in triples attempted (142) and third in triples made (67), which is good for 54th nationally. She is 57th in 3-point field goals per game at a 2.48 clip which is second in the LSC. Junior Sasha Watson is second in scoring at 10.7 points per game. She is 96 of 211 from the field (.455) and 92 of 133 from the line for a .692 clip. Watson leads the team and the conference in assists with 134 ranking her 32nd nationally and 29th in assists per game at 5.0. She is second in steals with 54 ranking her second in the conference behind teammate senior Madison McLain who is 92nd nationally with 56 and 99th at a 2.07 clip. Junior Alie Decker is third in scoring at 8.6 points per game and she is tied with McLain in triples made with 40. McLain is 40 of 106 (.377) from deep. Senior Zantaya Davis leads the team in blocks with 37 ranking her fourth in the league as the 37 blocks ties for the 10th-best all-time in a season (Teresa Tinner, 87-88). As a team, the Lady Buffs are shooting .458 from the field (695-1519) which leads the league and ranks 13th nationally. WT is 170 of 442 from range (.385) which is 11th nationally and is 394 of 560 from the line (.704). The Lady Buffs are averaging 39.0 rebounds per game and scoring 72.4 points per game which is good for 47th and second in the LSC. The Lady Buffs are 16th nationally in assists (467), tenth in assists per game (17.3) 17th in steals (309) and 13th in steals per game (11.4). All lead the LSC. Defensively, WT is holding teams to a .368 shooting clip (49th nationally/third LSC) as teams are shooting just .312 from beyond the arc (fourth LSC) and .701 from the line. WT is holding teams to 31.0 rebounds per game and is 16th in rebounding margin at a 8.0 clip. The Lady Buffs are forcing 19.8 turnovers per game (39th) and are second in the LSC in turnover margin at 2.48.
MCLAIN AND NEUHAUS COSIDA ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT
Seniors Madison McLain and Michaela Neuhaus were named to the CoSIDA District VI Academic All-Region Team. Neuhaus had a perfect 4.0 GPA, while McLain had a 3.91 as the duo will move on to the national ballot. If either McLain or Neuhaus earn Academic All-America honors, they will be the first for women’s basketball to do so since Emily Brister (now Cooper) earned first team accolades in 2008 and 2009. In all, West Texas A&M has had 38 Academic All-America selections with 13 first team honorees since 1980.
NEUHAUS TABBED LSC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Senior Michaela Neuhaus was named LSC Offensive Player of the Week Feb. 15 as she was key in the Lady Buffs’ 73-69 win on Feb. 13 over Texas Woman’s as she had a game-high 18 points, six assists and four steals, including the crucial theft with less than four seconds left to seal the victory. Neuhaus buried a team-high four triples in the game. She had 12 points, four assists and three rebounds against Midwestern State on Feb. 10. Neuhaus becomes the second Lady Buff to earn offensive honors this season as junior Lilley Vander Zee earned the honor on Nov. 30. Neuhaus is the fifth different Lady Buff overall to win this season as junior Sasha Watson, sophomore Madison Parker and senior Zantaya Davis all earned defensive honors so far.
WT INKS TWO DURING EARLY SIGNING PERIOD
The Lady Buffs signed two during the November signing period including Amarillo native (Amarillo High School) Lexi Hightower as she was ranked the No. 39 player in Texas according to the Premiere Basketball Report Class of 2016 Best of the Best Top 80 in Texas. Devine, Texas native Baylee Quisenberry also signed with the Lady Buffs as she averaged 15.3 points, five rebounds and 5.6 assists as a junior helping lead the team to a 26-9 record earning all-district and all-region honors.
LADY BUFFS PICKED FIRST IN LSC PRESEASON POLL
West Texas A&M was picked first in the Lone Star Conference Preseason Poll, while junior Sasha Watson was named LSC Preseason Player of the Year. The Lady Buffs garnered 23 of 25 first-place votes and 220 points. Texas Woman’s was second with one first-place nod and 171 points, while Midwestern State was third with 157 points. Cameron was fourth with the remaining top vote and 140 points.