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Blue Demons Overpower Bearcats

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DePaul guard Sam Quigley foreshadowed her lights-out shooting in Tuesday's contest when drilled a 3-pointer 23 seconds into the game.

 

The No. 12/ 17 Blue Demons handed the Cincinnati women's basketball team their fifth-straight defeat 67-48 at Fifth Third Arena.  

 

Quigley matched a season-best 23 points while knocking down seven triples on 12 attempts. 

 

The biggest one came at the first period buzzer, a backbreaking halfcourt heave. It was her fifth triple of the half and capped a 13-2 run from the Blue Demons to stretch their lead to 18.

 

"That last [second] shot was crazy," UC guard Shareese Ulis said.

 

Cincinnati (8-11, 1-6) took away DePaul's interior presence with double teams but succumbed to the senior's hot shooting from behind the arc. 

 

"We as coaches going into the game decided that we wanted to take away the inside game," head coach Jamelle Elliott said. "[To] try to disrupt the low post as much as possible and try to get out on the shooters as quickly as we can. But obviously [Quigley] is first team all-Big East for a reason. We picked our poison, unfortunately Quigley was able to knock down threes on a consistent basis."

 

A 10-3 run from UC at the 3:36 mark had trimmed a 14-point deficient to seven before Quigley sparked DePaul's three-minute blitz by nailing another 3-ball.

 

UC could not cut the lead below 15 in the final 20 minutes. 

 

The Bearcats shot nearly 47 percent in the closing half.

 

"I'm always happy when [we're] able to shoot the ball and make it, because we have been shooting so inconsistent recently," Elliott said.

 

Ulis cashed in 18 points to pace the Bearcats in 35 minutes of action. The guard found her comfort zone going off for nine-straight points over a two-minute period with under 10 minutes remaining.

 

"I need to do everything I can do to give my team a chance to win," Ulis said. "We ended the [first] half not scoring so I wanted to make sure we didn't do the same thing in the second half."

 

The Cats were outsized but gained a 40-39 edge on the glass. They held DePaul's forwards in check with just one player hitting double figures in points. Elliott said she was pleased with the team's fight in the paint despite their lack of height.


DePaul capitalized on the Bearcats 19 turnovers with 12 fast break points.

 

"They looked to get into the passing lanes and they were switching screens," Elliott said. "They were able to switch and get into the passing lanes, which led to them getting some transition baskets."

 

Cincinnati faced an early up-hill climb trailing by 13 due to cold shooting until guard Bjonee Reaves ended a seven-minute drought without a field goal at the 11:23 mark.

 

Elliott and the Bearcats will face her former team No. 2 UConn Saturday at 2 p.m. in Fifth Third Arena.

Cardinals Soar Past Cats

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Louisville's full-court press overwhelmed the Cincinnati women's basketball squad putting the game out of reach in the first half on Saturday.

 

The Bearcats lost 83-47 at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky in front of 10,556 spectators.

 

"Once we crossed half-court we broke the pressure, but we only had about 10 seconds to get in to the offense," head coach Jamelle Elliott said. "[Guard] Shareese Ulis had to really jack up [3-pointers] with the shot clock running down."

 

The Cardinals executed their game plan forcing UC into poor looks at the basket en route to 14.8 percent shooting in the opening period and 12 turnovers. At the first half buzzer the contest was all but over with Cincinnati trailing 39-13 after a 31-2 Louisville streak. 

 

Cincinnati (8-10, 1-5 Big East) went 2-15 from long range and put up three more shots from distance than from inside the arc in the opening stanza. 

 

The high-ball pressure UL sustained for the entirety of the game took its toll on UC's bench. Seven players took the court for Cincinnati, meanwhile 12 suited up for Louisville with 10 playing double-figure minutes.

 

"We can't go through a lot of possessions without scoring because obviously were not deep enough and big enough to stop people defensively every time they come down and have a possession," Elliott said. 

 

Freshman guard Kayla Cook led all scorers with a career-high 17 points, while Ulis netted 14 and guard Bjonee Reaves contributed 10. This was the first time in six conference games that the Bearcats had three players in double figures.

 

Cook looked to get on the board early and found holes in the Cards defense allowing her to score at the rim. This opened up 3-point shots for her as she went 3-7.

 

"[Cook] was aggressive," Elliott said. "She was one of the only players on my team that was able to take the ball around the basket and get some easy shots in the lane. That gave her confidence. She was also able to step outside and knock down shots."

 

UC showed vast resolve in the closing half shooting 46.4 percent and with six giveaways. One thing Elliott can take away from this blowout loss is her team is learning from its miscues.  

 

"In the second half we really improved our shot selection," Elliott said. "We had some success making shots. We played better in the second half, obviously it was a little too late, but again I'm at the point where I want us to get better."

 

The emergence of junior college transfer Reaves, who hit double figures in points for the first time in league play, is crucial for the Bearcats offense as defenses key on leading scorer Ulis. 

 

"We definitely need Bjonee to step up and help [Ulis] with the scoring early in the game," Elliott said. "She is capable she was third or fourth last year in junior college scoring in the nation. That's the main reason why I brought her on board last season. She has been having trouble scoring this season, but I think that is a mindset."

 

Louisville's win made it a clean sweep against their old-time rivals this year. Both games exposed UC's lack of size on the interior. 

 

"The big advantage they have is they start three guys in the front court that are 6-foot-2, 6-foot-3," Elliott said. "Our biggest player on our team is 6-foot-1. We're outmatched from a height standpoint."

 

Cincinnati returns home to face No. 13/18 DePaul Tuesday, at 7 p.m. at Fifth Third Arena.

 

"We will need to do everything right to not only have success against Louisville, but pretty much every team we face in the Big East," Elliott said. 

Women's Hoops Update

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--- The women's basketball team dropped their third consecutive contest Tuesday at St. John's. Here is a recap from the News Record, the independent student newspaper at UC.

--- Head coach Jamelle Elliott said that the No. 23 Red Storm would be out for blood after Cincinnati upset St. John's last year and that's exactly what happened.

--- Last season's result against the Red Storm was her inaugural Big East win as a coach.

--- The Bearcats are just beyond the half way point of the regular season at 8-9 and are into the swing of the always challenging Big East conference with a 1-4 mark.

--- Senior guard Shareese Ulis is the team's leading scorer with 15 a game, while no other Bearcat is averaging double figures. Here is a feature on Ulis, emphasizing how valuable she is to the squad.
 
--- Ulis failed to reach 10 points in her last game for just the third time this season.

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In addition to the senior, the starting line up consists of two freshman, Tiffany Turner and Kayla Cook, junior Division-1 transfer from Vanderbilt, Chanel Chisholm and a sixth-year senior Shelly Bellman.

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Turner leads the team in rebounding with nearly seven per game.

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This is Elliott's second season with Cincinnati. She has the distinction of being the only current coach who also played in the league.

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Despite poor shooting from the field, the Cats have been consistent from the charity stripe. They shot a combined 77 percent in seven games prior to the Rutgers game on Saturday. 

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The schedule does not get any easier for Cincinnati who travel to Louisville Saturday for a 2 p.m. tip in a rematch with their longtime rival. The Cardinals handed them a lopsided loss on Dec. 15.

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The Bearcats then host DePaul and No. 2 UConn in next week's slate of games. The two squads are a combined 11-0 in conference and currently hold the top two spots in the league standings.   

Knights Slice Cats

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Cincinnati refused to go away against Rutgers Saturday but came up short in a 55-44 loss at Fifth Third Arena.

 

The Scarlet Knights stretched their lead to as many as 18 in the second half before UC cut the deficient to nine with 5:31 remaining, after guard Shareese Ulis knocked down a deep 3-pointer.

 

UC would get no closer the rest of the way.

 

"We're undersized, we're not as quick, not as athletic, but we're going to fight no matter what," said head coach Jamelle Elliott. "I don't care if we're playing Rutgers or the [Los Angles] Lakers. At the end of the day we got heart. But heart only takes you so far if you're not executing what the game plan is [or] taking advantage of the open shots you have around the basket."

 

The Bearcats (8-8, Big East 1-3) dug themselves a hole early shooting 3-12 from the floor and trailed 20-9  with 8:34 left in the opening half.

 

UC went  0-8 from the field before freshman forward Tiffany Turner ended Cincinnati's scoring drought.

 

Ulis led all scorers with 20; no other Bearcat hit double figures.

 

"Coach has been talking about having an offensive mindset," said freshman guard Kayla Cook. "We got to help [Ulis] out. Rutgers had three players with [at least] 15 points and they came out with the win. We got to have the same balance in the score sheet."

 

The three active leading scorers behind Ulis, Chanel Chisholm, Shelly Bellman and Cook, combined for seven points. Freshman forward Tiffany Turner nearly tallied a double-double with nine points and eight rebounds.

 

"The problem is Tiffany [Turner] hasn't been playing well," Elliott said. "She plays great today. Chanel [Chisholm] who has been playing great for six games in a row, now all of the sudden doesn't play [well]. I want all of us to play well."

 

Elliott attributed Turner's strong performance to being more active on the offensive glass.  

 

"Tiffany [Turner] gave us some second chance points because she was a little more aggressive today," Elliott said. "She had three offensive rebounds, so she was little more active than she has been in the last six or seven games."

 

Rutgers guard Khadijah Rushdan and forward Monique Oliver posted 16 points apiece. 

 

The Scarlet Knights had a distinct size advantage over the Cats and outscored UC by 20 in the paint. 

 

"The game plan going in, was whenever somebody caught the ball in the post, our guards were supposed to get in there and make them pass the ball outside," Elliott said. "Sometimes we did it, sometimes we didn't."

 

Cincinnati trailed 30-20 at halftime.  

 

The Bearcats committed just six turnovers in both halves. 

 

10-3 run from the Scarlet Knights to open the closing half nearly put the game out of reach before UC went on a 8-2 run.

 

 

Time to help Jamelle Support a Great Cause

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Asking for money is not easy.  Therefore, on behalf of head coach Jamelle Elliott and the women's basketball team, I will ask for them.  Consider giving something, anything to Coach Elliott's team for the Walk MS taking place on April 24, 2010.  Whether it be $5 or $500, every penny helps fight this horrid disease. 

The event takes place at Sawyer Point, this Saturday morning, with all proceeds to benefit multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease near and dear to the heart of Coach Elliott.  Jamelle lost her mother to MS in 1999 and has dedicated this walk team and her effort in memory of her mother.   

WalkMS.gifIf you can not donate and have some time Saturday morning to walk, I suggest you join the Bearcats at Sawyer Point.  Not only will you help grow the Bearcats walk team, you will get to spend a few hours getting to know one of UC's newest head coaches, her staff and team, all the while supporting a great cause. 

For more information on Jamelle's team and the opportunity to walk or donate click here for more information.

Time to Consider Hanging up #34

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Now that the career of Stephanie Stevens has come to a close, it is time for the Bearcats women's basketball program to seriously consider retiring number 34.  Prior to Stevens donning 3-4 for four seasons at UC, the number belonged to Valerie King, one of the most decorated Bearcats ever to play for the women's basketball program here at UC. 

For women's basketball, there is only one number retired.  That is #24 and belonged to Cheryl Cook, who was without question the greatest Bearcat to play in Clifton.  Cook is the Bearcats all-time leading scorer, made more field goals in her career than any other player, is 7th all-time in rebounds with 688 and 5th all-time in assists with 360.  There is no question #24 deserved to hang inside Fifth Third Arena.  Now it is time for #34 to join #24.VKing-Action1-001.jpg

Over the course of her career, Valerie King played as many games as any other Bearcats (126) and is 2nd all-time in minutes played (4,200). Besides Cook, she is the only other Bearcat to eclipse 2,000 career points, finishing with 2,156.  All-time she is 4th in scoring average (17.1 PPG), 1st in 3-point field goals made (338), 1st in 3-point field goal percentage (.399), 3rd in free throws made (440) and 1st in free throw percentage (.866). 

Additionally, Val was a 2002 honorable mention All-American, three-time All-Conference USA, a member of the 2001 Conference USA All-Freshman team, twice the C-USA Tournament MVP and a four-time member of the C-USA All-Tournament Team. 

Currently, Val is an assistant coach at Morehead State, where she is on the staff of former Bearcats assistant, Mike Bradbury.  Maybe the Bearcats can schedule the Eagles for next fall, welcome #34 back to Fifth Third Arena and give her the honor she very much deserves.

Looking back at Year 1 for Jamelle Elliott

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Every coach would like to win more games then they lose, I think that goes without saying.  And while the Bearcats did not accomplish said goal this season, they did accomplish a lot.  First and foremost, they adjusted to a new head coach.  For Kahla Roudebush, Michelle Jones, Stephanie Stevens and Carla Jacobs it was their third head coach in four years.  That means twice going through transition and figuring out what a new coach expects. 

The Bearcats won on the road, in conference play, three times.  For the second year in-a-row, they won a first round BIG EAST Tournament game as the underdog.  They were picked to finish 16th in conference play and finished 14th.  Most importantly, they learned how to win.  With their backs against the wall at Louisville, they fought back, eventually winning in overtime.  Again, in a bad way at Syracuse they found a hero in Shareese Ulis, sent the game to overtime and stole a crucial road victory. 

Now the key is for the Bearcats to learn how to win consistently.  For Jamelle Elliott, winning is all she has ever known.  During her 16 years with UConn, she won over-and-over again.  She wants to do the same at UC.  While that sounds like a lofty goal, can you blame Coach Elliott for setting it?  It is all she knows. 

During her four years as a player for the Huskies, Jamelle lost 18 games.  Her first year here at UC she lost 18, won 12.  You know who else won 12 games their first year as a head coach?  Jamelle's mentor, Geno Auriemma.  His first year at UConn, the Huskies went 12-15.  Followed by 14-13 and 17-11.  It was not until his fourth year in Stoors, that the Huskies made the NCAA field for the first-time in school history.

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Comparing Jamelle to Geno isn't exactly fair.  Geno is a hall of fame coach, who has been a head coach for 25 years.  He took over a program that had one winning season in their history. One. The Bearcats have 22 winning season all-time, and hopefully more to come, with Jamelle Elliott leading the charge. 

Stay tuned over the next few weeks as I will take a look back at the Bearcats incoming class and also look back at the accomplishments of the 2005 recruiting class and what they accomplished over the course of five years. 

I would love to hear your thoughts on the season, shoot me an e-mail: Tom.Gelehrter@uc.edu and maybe I will do a mailbag on the first season of the Jamelle Elliott era, here in the near future.

Clean Slate as the 'Cats Head to Hartford

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Jamelle Elliott and the Bearcats will head to Hartford tomorrow morning where they meet USF in the 1st Round of the BIG EAST Tournament on Friday at (approximately) 8:00 p.m..  This will be the second time USF and UC have met in the conference championship and the second time in as many years.  The Bulls ended the Bearcats season last year in the 2nd round.  With that said, here are some 'notebook' style thoughts as the Bearcats set for the BIG EAST Tournament. 

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REPEAT OPPONENTS: This will be the second time in five years the Bearcats have faces a repeat opponent in Hartford.  UC played Pittsburgh their first two trips to the BIG EAST Tournament, missed the tournament in 2007-08, defeated Marquette last March before losing to USF in the 2nd round. 

LITTLE CHANCE FOR OPPONENT REVENGE: All four conference team the Bearcats defeated during the regular season (St. John's, Seton Hall, Louisville and Syracuse) are on the other half of the bracket and are unlikely to see the red and black.  The only way UC plays one of those four teams would be advancing to the championship game and one of the four defeating undefeated Connecticut. 

OPPORTUNITY FOR REDEMPTION: Out of 16 regular season conference games, the Bearcats game versus USF on January 30th, may have been their worst performance of them all.  The Bearcats lost at home 64-47 and never really felt like they were in the game.  UC shot 22% in the first half, 64% from the free throw stripe and got out rebounded 40-29.  The Bearcats two leading scorers, Kahla Roudebush and Shareese Ulis, combined to go 5 for 23 from the field.  If the Bearcats can play more like they did against the Cardinals, Orange and Red Storm and less like they did versus the Bulls, they will have every opportunity to advance to 2nd round and a re-match with Rutgers. 

JE at the XL CENTER: This shouldn't come as much of a surprise, but Jamelle Elliott did very well as an assistant coach both at the XL Center in the BIG EAST Tournament.  With Elliott on staff, the Huskies were 15-2 in the conference tournament at the XL Center.  Over the course of her 16 years on staff, UConn was 32-3 in the BIG EAST Tournament. 

TIP-OFF TIME IS TENATIVE: The Bearcats and Bulls play in the second game of the second session on Friday with the tip-off tenatively scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET.  In reality, tip will likely come closer to 8:20-8:30.  Either way, you can listen live, CLICK HERE

In the meantime, follow my updates from Hartford via Twitter: http://twitter.com/TommyG_sideline

Trying to Figure out the Bearcats Seed

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Don't spend too much time trying to figure out who and when the Bearcats will play in the first-round of the BIG EAST Tournament on Friday at the XL Center.  Doing so will make your head spin.  Spots 9 through 14 are separated by two games, with one to play.  This much I know:
  1. The Bearcats will wrap-up their regular season tomorrow night at Marquette.  A win over the Golden Eagles would tie the two teams and give UC the tie-breaker.  It would also potentially make things even more confusing.
  2. Cincinnati will play on Friday in the 1st-round.  They can not fall below the 14-seed and can get as high as the 11. 
  3. With that said, the 'Cats will either play in the 12/13 game at Noon or the 11/14 game at 8 p.m.. 
  4. Possible first-round opponents are: Syracuse, USF, Pittsburgh, Marquette and Louisville. 
  5. The Bearcats and Golden Eagles play the final regular season game (8 p.m. EST tip) and we should know the first-round opponent shortly after the final horn sounds. 
Yesterday was a tough loss for the red and black.  The Bearcats came out with great enthusiasm only to see an athletic Pitt team take over in the second half en route to the victory.  On a short turnaround, the team left today for Milwaukee and will have little time to prepare for Marquette.  The Golden Eagles are in the same boat having played on the road last night at West Virginia.

Remember, the Bearcats knocked off Marquette last year in the first round of the BIG EAST Tournament. 

I will head to Milwaukee tomorrow afternoon and have the call for you live, beginning with pre-game coverage at 7:45 p.m. EST.  To listen live CLICK HERE

In the meantime, if you really want to make your head spin, assume the Bearcats defeat Marquette, Pittsburgh loses versus St. John's and Louisville falls at Rutgers.  That would leave four teams tied for 11th at 5-11 in conference play.  Thankfully, someone else will let me know how things shake out in that scenario. 

Senior Day Saturday at Fifth Third Arena

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Tomorrow first-year head coach Jamelle Elliott will have her first senior day here in Clifton.  Prior to their 2:00 p.m. tip-off versus Pittsburgh, the Bearcats will honor four seniors, all of whom have experienced different paths throughout their tenures in Clifton. 

Before I get into my thoughts on the seniors, here are some tidbits for tomorrow's regular season home finale.  This is a crucial game.  Both the Bearcats and the Panthers are 4-10 in the BIG EAST.  The winner takes a game advantage over the loser and really has a 2-game advantage thanks to the tie-breaker.  Right now the Bearcats sit in 14th place, two games behind Syracuse (9th) and UC owns the tie-breaker with the Orange.  One game ahead of the 'Cats is Marquette the team Cincinnati plays Monday on the road. 

Best case scenario? The Bearcats win both, a couple of things fall their way and the red and black head to Hartford as the 9-seed, playing either Villanova or Seton Hall in the first-round. 

Worst case scenario? The Bearcats lose both, nothing falls their way and UC heads to Hartford as the 15-seed, with a very winnable first-round game. 

By late Monday night all of this will have some clarity, in the meantime, my thoughts on the four seniors to be honored tomorrow:

Shelly Bellman - sadly, Shelly's career at UC has been cut short.  When I arrived in Clifton four years ago, Shelly was an eager sophomore, fresh off a successful freshman campaign who had a very bright future at UC.  After a solid sophomore season, Shelly tore her ACL prior to her junior season.  She returned a year later, worked her way through a painful season, only to see it cut short with an additional knee injury.  After 2+ years of rehab, Shelly's career has been cut short well of what she could have accomplished.  If ever there was a time appropriate for a player to suit up and make one more basket, that would be the case for #22. 

Michelle Jones - MJ, along with Shelly arrived in 2005 as part of Laurie Pirtle's decorated recruiting class that also included Kahla Roudebush, Jill Stephens & Angel Morgan.  Michelle worked her way into the line-up early in her career and began to establish herself as a successful post player in the BIG EAST.  After sitting out a season, Michelle returned as a junior, but had a hard time re-establishing herself in the Bearcats rotation.  Now, as a senior, Michelle is the Bearcats only option at center and has stepped up to the task.  She is playing more minutes than ever before and helped the 'Cats to crucial conference road wins at Syracuse and Louisville. 

Kahla Roudebush - Kahla is the one player among the four I knew the least about early in my tenure here at UC.  My first season calling games Kahla played only the season opener and then received a medical redshirt due to a shoulder injury.  When she returned to the court for her sophomore season, I had no idea what to expect.  1200 points later, Kahla has helped UC to countless victories, solidified herself in the Bearcats record books and proved to be a constant for the red and black during two coaching changes.  She should end her career as the 10th all-time scorer in Bearcats history.  Not bad for a country girl from Noblesville, Indiana.

Stephanie Stevens - not many college athletes play for three head coaches in four years, don't see as many minutes as they may like and handle it with the class and positive attitude that Steph did the last four years.  A back-up guard her entire career, Steph has always been a player respected by her teammates.  She is always ready to answer the bell and often is the hardest working Bearcat in practice.  Thanks to Steph, I will always remember the 2007-08 season finale at Providence.  The Bearcats had nothing on the line and starting point guard Carla Jacobs sprained her ankle early in the game.  Steph was called on and answered with 17 points in 24 minutes, helping the 'Cats to a season ending win over the Friars. 

If you can make it out to Fifth Third Arena tomorrow, I suggest you do and that you come early.  All four of these young ladies deserve a nice round of applause.  Afterwards, cheer for the Bearcats as they try and win a crucial game with the Panthers.  If you can't make it, you can watch live here: UC vs. Pitt - 2 p.m.

In the meantime, follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/TommyG_Sideline