Sunday, March 25, 2001
Future bright for balanced Muskies
By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. Xavier starts four of its five seniors and they are 98-28 in four seasons, including Saturday's 80-65 victory over Tennessee in the Mideast Regional of the NCAA Tournament.
But the major contributions of several underclass players also show the Musketeers have reason for optimism the next two seasons.
Sophomore point guard Reetta Piipari, who led the nation in assists, had six assists and 10 points Saturday. She had two 3-pointers, one of which gave XU its first lead at 12-9.
Freshman post player Kate Kreager, who is 6-foot-3, played 17 minutes and had four points, two assists and a rebound.
Sophomore guard Amy Waugh came off the bench to score 14 points and had only two turnovers in 27 minutes.
Junior Shavon Bell played more than seven minutes and had four points. Her quickness matched up well with Tennessee's.
I love our backcourt, Xavier coach Melanie Balcomb said. I love having Amy Waugh coming off the bench. And her and Reetta together are very smart. Reetta's dad is the Finnish national coach. She's been a coach's daughter for a long time, so I have two little coaches on the floor. Even though they are sophomores, they play like they've played their whole lives.
Kreager, Balcomb said, is peaking, really getting better at the right time of the season. She has been very physical. She is doing a very good job of giving (Taru Tuukkanen) and (Jennifer Phillips) time inside.
Erin Hall, a 6-1 senior forward and top inside reserve this season, did not play Saturday. And starting guard Jennifer Parr played only 12 minutes, partly because she has been reluctant to take open shots the past two games.
ROCKY TOP: To measure the significance of Tennessee's loss, the Lady Vols are now 138-31 in March under coach Pat Summitt.
Their visit to the Mideast Regional was their 14th under Summitt, and they have won eight regional titles.
Tennessee has been placed in the East Region three times and the Midwest once, and it won all four of those brackets.
The six-time NCAA champions were national runners-up last season, losing 71-52 to Connecticut in the title game.
THE OTHER COACH: Balcomb became Xavier's all-time winningest women's coach Saturday. she is 123-58 in six seasons and passes Mark Ehlen (now at Toledo), who was 122-130.
MAGIC NUMBER: The Musketeers won for the 19th time this season when scoring 80 or more points.
LOCAL HERO: Taylor High School graduate Shalon Pillow played seven minutes and had two points and two rebounds for the Lady Vols. She also was called for an offensive foul.
CAREER MARKS: Piipari's six assists give her an XU-record 277 for the season, bettering Nikki Kremer's 275 in 1998-99. ... Jennifer Phillips' 17 points give her 1,621 in her career and move her into fifth on the program's scoring list. ... Nicole Levandusky made three 3-pointers, giving her 299 in her career.
STAT OF DAY: Tennessee senior forward Semeka Randall, a member of the Kodak All-America team as a junior, had no points Saturday on 0-for-9 shooting, and all five of her rebounds came in the first half.
You can't have Semeka Randall going 0-for-9 and not having a rebound in the second half, Summitt said. We just have to have our players we've counted on. They made big plays, and we didn't make big plays.
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