Since the Fall semester ended, the Lady Govs basketball team has played 12 games in that span of time and have gone 5-7. They recently wrapped up a five day, three game homestand that will had implications on their conference record. The Lady Govs went 1-2 in the three game homestand with a very impressive 72-59 win over Belmont University on Thursday, Jan. 15 and heartbreaking losses to Tennessee State University and Morehead State University.
The inconsistent play that was seen at times during the early portion of the season has emerged during the early stages of conference play as well. Coming out of their non-conference schedule, the Lady Govs notched two extremely impressive wins on the road against arguably two of the best teams in the conference in Eastern Kentucky University and Jacksonville State University.
In the Lady Govs conference losses thus far, problems that they have dealt with all season resurfaced. In the loss against Tennessee Tech the Lady Govs got off to a very slow start and fell behind the eight ball early. A second half comeback fell just short as the Lady Govs fell 75-71 for their first conference loss. In another conference loss the Lady Govs were unable to protect a 14-point halftime lead as they fell to Tennessee State 81-78 in overtime.
Junior Tiasha Gray has continued her strong season by averaging 20.7 points per game, 6.6 rebounds per game, 5.8 assists per game and 3.4 steals per game, all of which are team highs. With these numbers Gray has firmly placed herself in the conversation for Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year as well as a potential All-American nod at the end of the season. Despite the impressive numbers on the offensive side, what Gray has done on defense this year is what is setting her apart from her peers. Gray currently sets ninth in the nation in steals per game with no other OVC player in the top 40. Gray also sits 28th in the nation in scoring with UT Martin’s Asia Jones as the only OVC player ahead of her.
The other big story line besides Gray’s tremendous play on both sides of the ball has been the emergence of freshman Brianne Alexander since the last game of the non-conference schedule. Alexander is a 6-1 Smyrna, Tennessee product whose intensity and passion has greatly helped the Lady Govs in the much needed area of rebounding. After sitting out much of the first part of the season recovering from a knee injury, Alexander saw her first action on Friday, Dec. 30, against Central Arkansas. In 17 minutes Alexander scored 13 points and snagged five rebounds while showing some toughness inside that the Lady Govs had been missing this season. Her strong early play has earned her a couple of starts and she looks to be a huge contributor for the Lady Govs moving forward.
The Lady Govs currently sit at a two-way tie for fourth in the conference standings with Morehead State. The OVC women’s standings are no longer divided into divisions. This year, which is the first in this new format, the eight teams with the best record will advance to Nashville for a shot at the conference crown. The Lady Govs are within striking distance of the top two spots and have shown so far in the early conference matchups that they can hang with the top dogs in the OVC.