EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - For the fifth time in program history, University of Southern Indiana Women’s Basketball will square off against the top-ranked team in the nation when it hosts No. 1 Drury University Thursday at Screaming Eagles Arena. Tip-off for the Great Lakes Valley Conference tilt is 5:30 p.m. and begins the first half of a men’s and women’s doubleheader.
The Screaming Eagles (5-2, 1-0 GLVC) resume Great Lakes Valley Conference play with a pair of home games this week as they also host league newcomer Southwest Baptist University Saturday at 1 p.m.
USI is coming off a tough 95-55 Midwest Region road loss to No. 4 Ashland University. Sophomore forward Ashlynn Brown and freshman forward Tara Robbe each had 12 points to lead the Eagles, who shot just 30.2 percent (19-63) from the field.Brown averages 9.9 points and a team-high 5.0 rebounds per game, while senior guard Ashley Johnson leads USI with 11.3 points and 3.9 assists per contest. Junior guard Emma DeHart is chipping in 10.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per appearance.
Thursday’s game is USI’s first home game since defeating Hillsdale College, 63-41, November 26.
Both games this week will be aired live on 95.7 The Spin as well as the GLVC Sports Network, while live stats, audio, video and ticket links can be accessed at GoUSIEagles.com.
• Rough outing. Playing for the first time in nearly three weeks, USI Women’s Basketball ran into a buzz saw in the form of No. 4 Ashland in a 95-55 setback. Ashland connected on 18 three-pointers, tying a school record, and had five trifectas in a decisive 22-5 second-quarter run that turned a six-point deficit into an insurmountable 42-19 lead. Sophomore forward Ashlynn Brown and freshman forward Tara Robbe each had 12 points to lead USI.
• Takeaways from Ashland. USI did a good job of taking care of the ball, committing just 15 turnovers to Ashland’s 19; but poor shooting coupled with the lights-out shooting of Ashland was too much for the Eagles to overcome. USI shot just 30.2 percent (19-63) from the field and was just 3-of-12 (.250) from three-point range. Ashland, meanwhile, went 32-of-58 (.552) from the field and 18-of-34 (.529) from behind the arc, all while holding a 48-29 rebounding advantage.
• Back-to-Back Top 5 opponents. As USI plays just its second game in a month, the Eagles will be playing its second straight Top 5 team when it hosts No. 1 Drury Thursday. The last time USI played Top 10 teams in consecutive games was the 2015 GLVC Tournament, when USI upset No. 2 Lewis before falling to No. 8 Drury in the GLVC Championship game. This is believed to be the first time in program history that the Eagles have faced Top 5 teams in back-to-back games.
• USI vs. No. 1 teams. USI gets the opportunity to face the No. 1 team in the nation for the fifth time in program history when it takes on top-ranked Drury Thursday. USI is 1-3 in its previous four contests; the most-recent being a bout with Lewis January 24, 2016. Below is a list of how USI has fared against the top team in the nation:–Jan. 24, 2016: #1 Lewis 83, at USI 73–Jan. 8, 2009: #1 Northern Kentucky 62, at USI 48–March 21, 2001: #1 Columbus State 79, #14 USI 73–Jan. 6, 2001: at #21 USI 72, #1 Northern Kentucky 62.
• Tough schedule. USI has had a tough schedule throughout its first seven games and will be facing its third nationally-ranked opponent in eight games when it hosts Drury. Five of USI’s first seven opponents have posted winning records this season, while USI’s opposition has a combined 47-30 record in 2019-20.
• Early deficits. The Eagles have had to dig out of some early deficits throughout the first seven games. They trailed Central Missouri by 13 before rallying for a seven-point win in their season-opener and were down by 12 in the first half against McKendree before rallying for their latest win. USI nearly eliminated a 20-point second-half deficit in its loss to Ferris State.
• Double-figures. USI has had eight different players reach double figures in the scoring column this year, with six different players scoring at least 10 points in multiple games.
• Johnson records three assists, three steals. Senior guard Ashley Johnson recorded five points, three assists and three steals in USI’s loss to Ashland.
• Robbe efficient off the bench. Freshman forward Tara Robbe was 5-of-8 from the field and 2-of-3 from the free throw line as she reached double figures for the first time in her collegiate career in just 21 minutes of work in USI’s loss to Ashland.
• Turner blocks two shots. Junior center Audrey Turner led USI with two blocks in the Eagles’ loss to Ashland.
• About Drury. The Panthers are 10-0, 1-0 in GLVC play, and have won 49 consecutive regular-season games dating back to the 2017-18 season. Senior forward Hailey Diestelkamp averages 15.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game to lead the Panthers, whose most recent game was a 72-68 road win over Florida Southern December 20. Senior guard Daejah Bernard averages a team-best 5.1 assists and 2.5 steals per contest for a Panthers squad that is averaging 17.3 assists and 17.0 steals as a team.
• About Southwest Baptist. The Bearcats, who visit McKendree Thursday, are 6-3 overall and 0-1 in GLVC play following a pair of wins in Puerto Rico to close out the calendar year. Senior guard Bailey Rezabek averages 18.3 points per game to lead Southwest Baptist, which is in its first year in the GLVC.
• USI opens Screaming Eagles Arena with win. USI Women’s Basketball christened its brand-new home with a 52-45 come-from-behind win over No. 11 Central Missouri last Wednesday. The Eagles rallied from a 13-point first-quarter deficit to earn the season-opening victory after holding the Jennies to just 31 points throughout the final 33 minutes of the contest.
• Screaming Eagles Arena. The Eagles’ game against Central Missouri marked the first-ever regular-season basketball game in Screaming Eagles Arena. USI Women’s Basketball played in the Physical Activities Center from 1980-81 to 2018-19, posting a 363-194 record all-time at the PAC, including a 217-81 record under Head Coach Rick Stein.
• USI earns first win over nationally-ranked opponent since 2017. The Eagles’ win over then No. 11 Central Missouri marked USI’s first victory over a Top 25 opponent since they defeated No. 25 Grand Valley State, 53-44, at the Bellarmine Thanksgiving Classic November 25, 2017. Central Missouri also represented the highest-ranked opponent the Eagles have defeated since taking down No. 9 Drury, 84-78, at the PAC February 4, 2017.
• Magic Mark: 75 points. The Eagles are 414-77 (.843) all-time when scoring at least 75 points. USI is 287-28 (.911) since 1996-97 when reaching the 75-point plateau.