Sports

Lady Eagles take on tough Xavier squad

Winthrop's Tiffany Rodd needs just 10 points to reach 1,000 for her career. The senior shooting guard might get her chance today.

The Eagles are scheduled to take on Xavier at noon at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati.

Rodd will go for the milestone against the best team, by far, the Lady Eagles have faced this year.

Xavier is ranked 25th in the latest USA Today/ESPN poll. They have already played two ranked teams: No. 2 North Carolina and No. 7 Louisville.

The Muskateers have preseason All-American Ta'Shia Phillips. She stands 6-6 and averages 15.2 points and 13.2 rebounds per game. She commands a lot of defensive attention and will be the first big post player the Lady Eagles have faced this season.

Phillips, just a sophomore, has had two great games. She scored 23 and had a career-high 25 rebounds at North Carolina. She went for 25 and 12 in the season opener against Robert Morris.

If Winthrop can get Phillips in early foul trouble -- like Indiana, Louisville and LSU have done -- she becomes much less effective. Phillips was whistled for three fouls in only three first-half minutes of action Wednesday at LSU.

The problem is Winthrop coach Bud Childers doesn't have a real aggressive defensive center to put on Phillips. Childers has senior Ashley Haugtvedt, at 6-2, and 6-3 freshman TaQuoia Hammick, but is still without 6-3 senior Jennifer Walker.

Walker is serving an indefinite suspension, along with Franchesca Davenport and Shanice Cole, for violating team rules.

Tuesday night at Clemson, Tigers' center April Parker played as much facing the basket as she did posting up. She caught Winthrop by surprise scoring some easy 8- to 10-foot baskets early. Parker had eight first half points, but Haugtvedt limited her to four after intermission.

"The last 26 minutes of the game, we were right there or better than Clemson. Offensively, we ran our stuff. We mixed our defenses well and were even on the boards," Childers said.

"There were moments where, if we had some more experience, it could have helped us."

Experience -- on the floor or coming off the bench -- could be lacking again tonight. Phillips is a true center and Childers will have to devise a plan to stop her with the personnel he has available.

Xavier also has talented guards with Tudy Reed, Jerri Taylor and Dee Dee Jernigan.

Reed, a senior, led all scorers with 31 points, including six 3-pointers in the first half, in the Musketeers' 65-55 loss to Louisville.

Taylor, also a senior, scored 15 and dished-out a pair of assists at North Carolina.

Jernigan, a junior, came off the bench at LSU to post career highs with 15 points and eight rebounds. Xavier won the game 57-48.

"We have to be ready from the start. If we are, we have a chance to beat anyone," senior Yvonne van Daalen said after the Clemson game.

Meanwhile, Winthrop is getting through this "mini-season" behind its seniors. Ashley Fann is off to a great start, posting three straight double-doubles. Rodd is averaging 12 points a game.

Van Daalen is doing more than handing out assists this year. She scored a career-high 17 at Clemson and becomes more of a scoring threat when Kathi Ryska comes in at the point. Haugtvedt is playing a lot more minutes -- almost 28 a game -- than she is accustomed to delivering due to Walker's absence. She was nearly perfect from the floor (7-of-8) against Clemson for 17 points.

Winthrop will play UT-Martin out of the Ohio Valley Conference at noon on Sunday in the final game of the Xavier Thanksgiving Tournament.

UT-Martin is led by 5-10 forward Phyllisha Mitchell. She was averaging 14.3 points and 13 rebounds a contest leading into the weekend. She was chosen to the preseason All-OVC team.

The Skyhawks lost to Texas-Pan American, 59-48, to open the season. They lost at Lipscomb, 61-56, before beating SIU Edwardsville, 73-70, on Monday.

Winthrop has never faced Xavier or UT-Martin.

• When: Noon

• Where: Cintas Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

• TV: None

• Radio: None

• Internet: winthropeagles.com

• Winthrop Probable Starters: G Yvonne van Daalen 5-9 Sr. (8.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg); G Tiffany Rodd 6-0 Sr. (12.3 ppg, 3.8 apg); F Jessica Fansler 5-11 Jr. (6.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg); F Ashley Fann 6-0 Sr. (16.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg); C Ashley Haugtvedt 6-2 Sr. (9.3 ppg, 5 rpg).

• Xavier Probable Starters: G Special Jennings 5-6 So. (7.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg); G Tudy Reed 5-11 Sr. (12 ppg, 4.8 rpg); G Jerri Taylor 5-7 Sr. (9 ppg, 1.2 rpg); F April Phillips 6-0 Jr. (6.4 ppg, 8.2 rpg); C Ta'Shia Phillips 6-6 So. (15.2 ppg, 13.2 rpg).

• Game Notes: Winthrop still has three suspended players, Shanice Cole, Franchesca Davenport and Jennifer Walker ... The trio combined for 15.2 points and 11.3 rebounds per game a year ago ...The Lady Eagles have increased their scoring in each game thus far. They scored 68 Tuesday at Clemson ...Fann has three consecutive double-doubles ...Van Daalen scored a career-best 17 points at Clemson ... Rodd is 10 points shy of 1,000 for her career ... Rodd needs 33 3-pointers to become the Big South's all-time leader in that category ...Van Daalen needs eight assists to become the school's all-time Division I leader in that category... Xavier center Ta'Shia Phillips was a preseason All-American pick ... Winthrop won't face a 6-6 center again until Jan. 24 when it plays Gardner-Webb's Sandra Vaitkute in Boiling Springs.

• Up Next: Winthrop plays UT-Martin in Cincinnati on Sunday.

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