Eagles defense leads to high-scoring offense

Pat Hickey

After a 46-point blowout against Mid-Continent University (Ky.) last Thursday, the USI women’s basketball team extended its winning streak to six games to begin the season.

The Eagles (6-0) rank seventh among all Division II teams in field goal percentage (48.6), eighth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3) and eighth in margin of victory (26.8) – a stark contrast to last season, when USI ranked within the bottom two teams in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC).


 

“I think we’re pushing the ball a lot more than we did last year,” junior guard Ariel Barnes said. “Our defense sets up our offense. We like to get out in transition quick because it gives their defense less time to match up, and we’ve taken advantage of that by getting easy baskets.”

Over the last three games, Barnes is averaging 14.3 points and is the owner of a 6.0 assist-to-turnover ratio. With each of the starting five players in double-digit scoring and 11 players receiving double-digit minutes, the Eagles have been able to get out and run with confidence knowing anybody on the court can score.

“Just knowing that you have so many people that can step up and score, there’s no pressure for any one person to feel like they have to get it done,” junior guard Stephanie Carpenter said.

The Eagles average almost as many assists offensively (20.0) as its defense forces turnovers (20.8). Over the past four games, USI has outscored its opponents 108-39 in points after turnovers and have also limited opponents to just 32.3 percent combined shooting.

“Last year, we had so many players that were either coming out of high school or were only a year removed that really didn’t know how to defend at the college level,” USI Head Coach Rick Stein said. “I think we’re leaps and bounds ahead of where we were last year. I mean, way ahead. We need to be strong defensively because if we have an off night shooting, and we can’t keep up on the other end, we’re not going to win.”

USI will host a pair of Midwest regional games against Marygrove College (Mich.) at 1 p.m. on Sunday and follow that with Cedarville University (Ohio) on Dec. 18 before opening GLVC play in 2013.