Wednesday, February 10, 1999

XU, UC women 'match up perfectly'

Shootout could be best ever

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Xavier's Nikki Kremer
(Jeff Swinger photo)

| ZOOM |
        This is an equal opportunity town, guys. The University of Cincinnati and Xavier men provided a crosstown thriller last month; now the women appear poised to do the same.

        The Hometown Shootout, which tips off at 7:30 tonight at UC's Shoemaker Center, shapes up as one of the best matchups in the rivalry's 21-year history.

        Cincinnati is 17-6 and chasing the lead in Conference USA, while Xavier, despite dropping its last two, is off to its best-ever start (17-5) and in striking distance in the Atlantic 10 West.

        Neither is ranked in the Top 25, but each has beaten a ranked team this season (Xavier handed then-No.11 Virginia Tech its first loss and the Bearcats beat then-No.18 Tulane by 19), and each received votes in this week's Associated Press poll.

        “It's a glaring, obvious, great matchup,” said UC coach Laurie Pirtle, whose team won last year's game 78-72. “On paper, we match up perfectly. What a great thing for the city of Cincinnati, to have two great men's teams and two great women's teams that represent the city.”

        Each team likes to play up- tempo and each has a flashy backcourt presence: UC's Madinah Slaise, who averages 19.2 points and XU's Nikki Kremer, a Cincinnati native who averages 8.8 assists and 10.3 points.

        UC also gets scoring from senior center Doris Scott (14.3) and forward Tanya Kirk (10.3).

        Xavier has four starters in double figures: guards Kremer and Kim Hotz (10.3 ppg each) and forwards Jennifer Phillips (14.3) and Nicole Levandusky (15.0).

        The only downside is timing. The game falls in the middle of the conference races, forcing Xavier to play five games in eight days.

        “Our kids are so focused on each game in the conference being the most important game we play, nobody's looked ahead to this game,” XU coach Melanie Balcomb said. “I don't know if it's a good distraction or a bad distraction.... (But) it's intense for one reason: it's bragging rights, and it's pride. We're not going to have to coach effort.”

        “It's more of a pride game. It's fun,” said Kremer. “We're both at our best games right now, so it might make the game more exciting.”


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