Courtesy: Inertia Sports Media
UMKC Aims For First NCAA Tournament Berth And Summit League Tournament Title At 3 p.m. On ESPNU Against South Dakota State
Courtesy:UMKC Athletics
Release:03/05/2012
(Sioux Falls, S.D.)  -- The No. 3 UMKC women's basketball team (22-10, 11-7) will look to advance to their first ever NCAA Tournament and claim the 2012 Summit League Tournament championship when they face-off with No. 1 South Dakota State (23-8, 16-2) in Sioux Falls, S.D. The game between the Kangaroos and the Jackrabbits is slated for a 3 p.m. start at the Sioux Falls Arena.

On the Air and On the Web

TV: ESPNU (Clay Matvick - p-b-p, Abby Waner - color)

Live Online Video: ESPN3/www.thesummitleague.org (Clay Matvick - p-b-p, Abby Waner - color)

Radio: 1030 AM (T.J. Jackson - p-b-p, Steven St. John - color)

Live Online Radio: www.kcwj.org (T.J. Jackson - p-b-p, Steven St. John - color)

Live Stats: www.UMKCKangaroos.com

Watch Party

UMKC will host a watch party featuring the 2012 Summit League Tournament Championship game between the No. 3 seeded UMKC Kangaroos and the No. 1 seeded South Dakota State Jackrabbits at the 810 Zone on the Plaza with the game airing on ESPNU.

Opponent Preview

South Dakota State enters the contest with a 23-8 record overall, 16-2 mark in Summit League play and are winners of 14 of their last 15 after taking down IPFW and IUPUI in the first two rounds.  On the season, the Jackrabbits are averaging 67.8 points per game, including 14.4 from Jennie Sunnarborg, 12.0 from Jill Young and 10.8 from Ashley Eide.  Defensively, SDSU is limiting opponents to 57.1 points per game on 36.8 percent shooting.

Series Records

South Dakota State holds and all-time record of 10-1 against the 'Roos with 10 of the games being played between the teams as Division I opponents.  This season SDSU has won 75-62 in Brookings and 79-73 in Kansas City.

Whitaker Against the Jackrabbits

Head Coach Candace Whitaker holds a 1-9 record against the Jackrabbits and has been the head coach for the 'Roos in all 10 match-ups between the schools as Division I foes.  The 'Roos lone win came on Jan. 11, 2010 when they were victorious 67-64 in Kansas City.

First Meeting

The UMKC women's basketball team dropped a Summit League contest 75-62 to South Dakota State on Jan. 14 at Frost Arena.

      Senior Dayon Hall-Jones and sophomore Eilise O'Connor led the UMKC scoring attack with 14 points each, while junior Kim Nezianya finished with 13 points.  On the glass, Nezianya grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, while senior Brianna Eldridge added seven, including four offensive.

      Defensively, UMKC limited South Dakota State to just 17.6 percent (3-17) from three-point range, while out-scoring the Jacks 21-14 off turnovers and 14-9 on second chance points.

Second Meeting

The UMKC women's basketball team fell in heartbreaking fashion, 79-73, on Feb. 11 to South Dakota State at the Swinney Recreation Center after holding a 15 point first half lead.

      Junior Kim Nezianya led the Kangaroo effort with 16 points, five rebounds and three steals, senior Dayon Hall-Jones and sophomore Eilise O'Connor each chipped in 12 points.

      Defensively, UMKC forced 20 Jackrabbit turnovers, including nine on steals, while limiting SDSU to just 41.5 percent shooting from the field.

      Senior LeAndrea Thomas finished with nine points, five assists, four rebounds, four steals and a block, while sophomore Ashli Hill added eight points, two blocks and a team-high six rebounds.

Last Time Out          

The No. 3 seed UMKC women's basketball team (22-10, 11-7) advanced to the championship game of the Summit League Tournament for the second time in school history and the first time since 2005 with a 71-56 win over No. 7 seed Western Illinois (12-19, 7-11) on Monday afternoon at the Sioux Falls Arena.

      For the Kangaroos, senior Dayon Hall-Jones and sophomore Eilise O'Connor led the squad with 15 points each, while junior Kim Nezianya and sophomore Ashli Hill added 12 and 11, respectively.

      On the glass, the 'Roos out-rebounded WIU 42-31 with Hill (8), Nezianya (7) and O'Connor (7) leading the effort.

      In the game, the 'Roos made 25 field goals on 15 assists and out-scored the Leathernecks 24-14 in the paint and 21-15 on second chance points, while shooting 81.0 percent (17-21) from the line.

      Individually, Thomas added eight points, three assists and three steals, while junior Kaycie Boyles scored six points and grabbed three rebounds.  Eldridge, meanwhile, grabbed five boards, while holding WIU's Saule Kontautaite scoreless in the contest.

      Defensively, UMKC forced 19 WIU turnovers, including 12 on steals, matching the 12 by the 1999 squad for the most by a Kangaroo squad in a Summit League Tournament game.

Hall-Jones Named First Team All-Summit League

Dayon Hall-Jones earned her first all-league selection after leading the 'Roos with 17.0 points per game, while adding 2.0 assists and 2.0 rebounds per contest.  On Dec. 31, the Dallas, Texas, native scored 43 points against Oral Roberts, the fourth highest total in the NCAA this season and the highest total by any player in a Summit League game in league history.  Her nine threes in the contest, meanwhile, were a UMKC and Summit League record.  Sophomore guard Eilise O'Connor, meanwhile, received honorable mention honors after averaging 10.5 points per game, 4.9 assists, 4.1 rebounds per game and 1.8 steals per game.

Thomas Named Summit League Sixth Woman of the Year

LeAndrea Thomas garnered Sixth Woman of the Year honors after notching 9.3 points per game, 2.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.6 steals per game.  On Jan. 16, the Kansas City, Mo., native scored a career-high 24 points at North Dakota State, leading the 'Roos to their first ever win over the Bison in Fargo.  On Nov. 28, Thomas was named the College Sports Madness Summit League Player of the Week after helping the 'Roos to a 3-1 record and a runner-up finish at the World Vision Basketball Invitational

300th Win

The UMKC women's basketball program currently sits on 299 wins and will get number 300 with a win on Tuesday over South Dakota State.

Superlatives

Two UMKC superlatives stick out with the UMKC women's basketball team.  Win the 'Roos out-shoot a team, they are 19-1 overall and when they out-rebound a team, they are 16-2.

Seven Game Win Streak

With the win over the Leathernecks, the Kangaroos are currently riding a seven game winning streak.  During the stretch, the 'Roos are out-scoring opponents 70.7 to 60.0, while out-shooting them from the field, three-point range and free throw line, out-rebounding them, out-assisting them and out-stealing them.

Neutral Court

This season, the 'Roos hold a 4-0 record when playing on a neutral court, picking up wins over Louisiana-Monroe, Central Arkansas, Oakland and Western Illinois.  In the four games, UMKC is out-scoring its opponents 70.8 to 61.2.

Where The Season Ranks

With the 20 wins this season, the 'Roos have amassed the second most wins in school history, trailing only the 24 set by the 1991-92 squad.  The six road wins, meanwhile, are tied with the 1991-92 team's for the most all-time and the 12 home wins rank third all-time.

The Seniors

On Feb. 27, the UMKC women's basketball team honored the six members of its senior class, Simone Bridges, Dayon Hall-Jones, Brianna Eldridge, LeAndrea Thomas, Jade Tinner and Mariah Scaife.  Combined the six members have played 22 seasons and 637 games with 286 starts, registering nearly 3500 points, nearly 1200 rebounds, over 850 assists, nearly 550 steals and nearly 150 blocks, while taking part in 61 wins in the past four seasons.

1,000 Point Club

UMKC senior Dayon Hall-Jones recently became the 10th member of UMKC's 1,000 point club.  She now sits 10th in the UMKC record books in scoring with 1,027 points, 11 behind ninth place Lauren Powers.

Comeback Kids

Five times this season, the UMKC women's basketball team has overcome a double-digit deficit to claim victory.  On Nov. 26, the 'Roos trailed Louisiana-Monroe by 16, on Dec. 9, trailed Eastern Michigan by 11, on Jan. 4, trailed New Mexico State by 10, on Jan. 7., trailed South Dakota by 10 and on Feb. 13, trailed North Dakota State by 13.  In the five games, the Kangaroos have ended up winning by and average margin of seven after trailing by an average margin of 12.  In all, the 'Roos have trailed in 12 games that they have gone on to win.

Career Marks

Several 'Roos have climbed their way up the top-10 list in the UMKC record books this season, including LeAndrea Thomas, Jade Tinner, Dayon Hall-JonesMariah Scaife and Ashli Hill.  Thomas is now for the most games played in UMKC history with 123, while sitting third in steals (244), fifth in assists (313), sixth three-point field goals made (106) and seventh three-point field goals attempted (311) .  Tinner, meanwhile, is sixth in field goal percentage (.512) and tied for fourth in games played (121), while Hall-Jones is 10th in three-point field goal percentage (.350), fourth in free throws made (253), sixth in free throws attempted (337) and 10th in scoring (1027).  Hill and Scaife, meanwhile, rank  third (140) and sixth (68), respectively in blocks.

Hall-Jones' Marks Against Oral Roberts

In the Dec. 31 game against ORU, senior Dayon Hall-Jones achieved several marks including:

  • Second most points in the NCAA this season (43).
  • Most points in The Summit League this season (43).
  • Second most points in Summit League history in any game (43).
  • Most points in Summit League history in league game (43).
  • Three points shy of UMKC single game scoring record (43).
  • UMKC record for points (31), three-point field goals (seven) and field goals (12) in a half.
  • UMKC record for three-point field goals in a game (nine).
  • Tied for the most three-point field goals in a Summit League game (nine).
  • Scored first 17 UMKC points on 7-of-7 shooting (3-of-3 3-pt. FG)

Not A One Woman Show

In the Dec. 31 match-up with Oral Roberts, senior guard Dayon-Hall Jones went off for 43 points, but was not the only 'Roos to post an impressive performance.  In the contest sophomore Eilise O'Connor and junior Kim Nezianya each posted double-doubles, the second and third on the team this season.  For O'Connor, the guard finished with a career-high and Summit League season-high 12 assists, 10 points, six rebounds and a steal, while Nezianya posted her second consecutive double-double with 13 points, a career-high 14 rebounds, two steals and a block.  Sophomore Ashli Hill, meanwhile, finished with 13 points, six rebounds, three blocks and a career-high three steals.

Hall-Jones Named College Sports Madness And Summit League Player Of The Week

UMKC senior Dayon Hall-Jones was named the College Sports Madness Summit League Player of the Week for the second times this season and the Summit League Player of the Week after helping the 'Roos to Summit League wins over Southern Utah and Oral Roberts.

      Hall-Jones opened up the week with 15 points in the 81-61 win over Southern Utah, before going off for 43 points in the 92-79 win over Summit League preseason favorite Oral Roberts.  Against the Golden Eagles, the Dallas, Texas native opened the game going 7-for-7, scoring the 'Roos' first 17 points en route to a school-record 31 first half points.  In the opening session, Hall-Jones shot 12-of-15 from the field, including 7-of-8 from three-point range, setting school records for field goals and three-point field goals made in a half.

      In the second half, the 5-4 guard added 12 points to her total, giving her 43 for the game and The Summit League record for most points scored in a league contest.  In all, Hall-Jones' 43 points rank as the most points by a Summit League player this season, are three shy of the UMKC record and just one shy of The Summit League record for any game.  In the game, the senior finished 16-of-25 from the field, including a UMKC school record and a Summit League record tying nine three-point field goals.

UMKC In The RPI

In the RPI rankings released by the NCAA, the Kangaroos appear as the 148th ranked team in the nation and the fourth highest team in The Summit League trailing only South Dakota State (64), South Dakota (87) and Oral Roberts (113).

'Roos In League Play

In Summit League play, senior Dayon Hall-Jones averaged a team-high 16.1 points per game, while adding nearly two assists per game.  Junior Kim Nezianya, meanwhile, score 10.4 points per game and grabbed 8.2 rebounds per game, while sophomore Eilise O'Connor registered 12.3 points per game, 5.5 assists per game, 4.8 rebounds per game and 1.8 steals per game.

Knoche Joins The Squad

After finishing her career with the 'Roo volleyball team, UMKC senior Kelsey Knoche switched gears and joined the 'Roo basketball team for the rest of the season.  Knoche, who has placed her name throughout the UMKC volleyball record book, was an outside hitter for the volleyball team and will serve as a forward for the hoops team.

Hometown Show

On Dec. 17, UMKC sophomore Ashli Hill had a career performance in her hometown of Lawrence, Kan. against Kansas.  On the night, the 6-5 center finished with career-highs in points (20), field goals (8), field goal attempts (15) and minutes played (30) in front of her friends and family.

Overtime Warriors

During a five game stretch from Nov. 26-Dec. 9 , the UMKC women's basketball team played in four overtime contests, beginning with its 76-70 win over Louisiana-Monroe in the World Vision Basketball Tournament.  On Dec. 1 and 3, meanwhile, the 'Roos dropped a pair of Summit League games, 70-65 to Oakland and 82-76 to IPFW, before defeating EMU 70-68 on Dec. 9.  In the four games, sophomore Eilise O'Connor topped the team with 16.3 ppg, while Kim Nezianya (15.0) and Dayon Hall-Jones (16.0) also averaged double figures.  Brianna Eldridge, meanwhile, is grabbed 10.5 rebounds in the stretch.

Three-point Sharpshooters

This season, the 'Roos have been hot from the outside, as the squad has hit 35.0 percent of its three-point attempts, the 21st best mark in the NCAA and made 6.4 three-point field goals per game, the 49th best mark.  10 times this season, the Kangaroos have shot better than 40.0 percent from beyond the arc, while Kim Nezianya (.403) is topping the 40 percent mark individually.

Dishing It Out

At the end of the regular season, the Kangaroos are averaging 14.8 assists per game, the second best mark in The Summit League and 41st best in the NCAA.  The 29 assists in the outing against Houston Baptist and the 23 in the opener against NW Missouri State, meanwhile, rank as two of the highest totals in the league.  Individually, two  'Roos are in the top-15 in the league in assists, including   Eilise O'Connor (second-4.8 apg) and LeAndrea Thomas (14th-2.4 apg).

'Roos in the NCAA Rankings

As  of Mar. 4, the UMKC women's basketball team has placed itself in the top-50 of several NCAA categories, including sitting 21st in three-point percentage (35.6).  The 'Roos also rank 32nd in scoring offense (71.7) and 41st in assists per game (14.8).  Individually, Dayon Hall-Jones ranks 72nd in scoring (16.8) , while LeAndrea Thomas ranks 52nd in steals (2.6), Ashli Hill ranks 34th in blocks (2.2) and Eilise O'Connor ranks 42nd in assists (4.8) and 94th in assist turnover ratio (1.46).

Atop The Summit League Rankings

As a team, the 'Roos have placed themselves atop the Summit League in offensive rebound percent (.357) and offensive rebounds (14.3 orpg).  Individually, Brianna Eldridge leads in offensive rebounds (3.6 orpg).

Hall-Jones Named College Sport Madness Summit League Player of the Week

UMKC senior Dayon Hall-Jones was named the College Sports Madness Summit League Player of the Week after helping the 'Roos to a 70-68 overtime win over Eastern Michigan on Friday.  Against the Eagles, Hall-Jones finished with 27 points, two shy of her career-high, on 10-of-19 shooting, including 4-of-7 from three-point range.  In the game, the Dallas, Texas, native opened both the first and second halves with three-point field goals to help the 'Roos overcome an 11-point deficit, while scoring the first two point of overtime as well.

Thomas named College Sports Madness Summit League Player of the Week

Senior LeAndrea Thomas was named the College Sports Madness Summit League Player of the Week after helping the 'Roos to a 3-1 record and a runner-up finish at the World Vision Basketball Invitational.  During the week, Thomas led the 'Roos to a 100-63 win over North Florida, where she matched her career-high with 20 points and set a new career-high with four three-point field goals made, while adding five steals in the effort.  In the World Vision Basketball Invitational, Thomas helped the Kangaroos to a 2-1 record, including wins over Louisiana-Monroe and Central Arkansas.  Against the Sugar Bears, Thomas finished with a team-high 17 points to go along with four rebounds, three steals and three assists.

Home Cooking

The 'Roos finished 12-3 at home during 2011-12, the third best home record in the school's Division I era.  As a team, the 'Roos averaged over 76 points per game, while allowing on 63.2 ppg.  Four times this season, the squad has topped the 90 point mark at the SRC.

'Roos Ink Five In Early Signing Period

Head Coach Candace Whitaker and the UMKC women's basketball team picked up five signings of the early signing period with the addition of 5-8 point guard Kelsey Barnwell, 5-9 guard Lauren Dudding, 6-0 forward Taylor Leathers , 6-0 guard Brittany Atkins and 6-4 center Kara Lee.  The group will help fill the void created by the departure of the six seniors on this year's roster.

The Summit League Releases Women's Basketball Preseason Poll; 'Roos Tabbed Sixth

The UMKC women's basketball team was picked to finished sixth in The Summit League standings in a vote by the league's head coaches, SIDs and media.  The 'Roos, who return all five starters to a team that finished 14-16 overall and 9-9 in league play, received 181 points in the voting.

School (1st place votes)                     Points

1. Oral Roberts (24)                            438

2. Oakland (2)                                     356

3. South Dakota State (1)                   328

4. IPFW                                              280

5. North Dakota State                         257

6. UMKC                                           181

7. South Dakota                                  159

8. Southern Utah                                 146

9. IUPUI                                             99

10. Western Illinois                             68

Last Season

During the 2010-11 season, the 'Roos posted a 14-16 record overall and a 9-9 mark in Summit League play, including wins over Oral Roberts and IPFW, the top two teams in the league.  On Feb. 18-19, the Kangaroos took home the Lady Osprey Holiday Tournament title  with Eilise O'Connor claiming MVP honors.  On the season, O'Connor led UMKC in scoring at 10.0 points per game, while Dayon Hall Jones recorded an average of 9.6 points per game.  On the glass, Kim Nezianya grabbed a team-high 5.7 rebounds per game, while Brianna Eldridge chipped in 5.3 caroms each contest.

O'Connor In 2010-11

As a freshman in 2010-11, San Francisco, Calif., native Eilise O'Connor had a season to remember.  During the year, O'Connor led the 'Roos in scoring (10.0) and assists (82), while moving into the top-10 in 10 different UMKC freshman records.  On the season, O'Connor claimed MVP honors at the Lady Osprey Holiday Tournament and a spot on The Summit League all-Newcomer Team, while being named a Distinguished Scholar on The Summit League Winter/Spring all-Academic Team.

Hill Blocks Her Way Into Record Books

Last season, Ashli Hill amassed 72 blocks for the Kangaroos, an average of 2.5 per game.  That total ranks as the best ever by a UMKC freshman by more than 30 blocks and stands as the fourth most in a season by any 'Roo.  Her one year total, meanwhile, already ranks as the fifth most in a career in school history, just seven behind third place.

Three New 'Roos in 2011-12

The 2011-12 UMKC roster will feature three new 'Roos, freshmen Lexis Hardiek and Sydney Crimmins and junior Emile Blakesley.  Hardiek joins the squad out of Hill City, Kan., where she set the Kansas state record for three-point field goals made in a career and a season, while Crimmins was named to the North Central Kansas League First Team in each of her four seasons.  Blakesley, meanwhile, averaged 9.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.3 apg and 2.5 spg last season at Hutchinson CC.

Kangaroos Have Deep Bench

Last season, 13 'Roos averaged eight minutes or more and played in at least 22 games on the season.  This season the squad returns 13 of those players with three newcomers being added to the mix.

Six Seniors Lead The Way

This season, the UMKC line-up will feature six seniors with a combined 17 season in the Blue & Gold.  As a unit, Simone Bridges, Brianna Eldridge, Dayon Hall-Jones, Mariah Scaife, LeAndrea Thomas and Jade Tinner have played in nearly 500 games for the 'Roos, starting over 225 contests.

Head Coach Candace Whitaker

Candace Whitaker was named the head coach of the UMKC women's basketball program on Mar. 19, 2007. Whitaker, who is the seventh head coach in the Division I era at UMKC, enters her sixth season at the helm of the Kangaroos.

      In 2010-11, Whitaker led the 'Roos to a 14-16 record overall and a 9-9 mark in Summit League play, including wins over Oral Roberts and IPFW, the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the league.  During the season, the 'Roos were crowned champions of the Lady Osprey Holiday Tournament, where freshman Eilise O'Connor was named Tournament MVP.  Under her guidance as a former point guard, Whitaker helped guide O'Connor to a spot on The Summit League all-Newcomer Team, while fellow freshman Ashli Hill made her mark on the defensive end, setting the UMKC freshman record with 72 blocks, the fourth most all-time in a season in school history.

      A native of Canyon, Texas, Whitaker received a bachelor of science degree in exercise sport science from Texas Tech in 2002. She also earned a master's degree in sports administration at Valparaiso in 2004, where she received the Athenaeum award for academics. She was married to Matt Whitaker on April 28, 2007, and the couple had their first child, Westin, in December of 2009.

The Staff

The 2011-12 UMKC women's basketball coaching staff returns entirely intact after last season.  Associate head coach Bruce Erickson enters his third season with the program, while assistant coaches Wyketha Harrell and Meredith Doyle enter their fifth and second years at UMKC, respectively.  Jessica Trahan, meanwhile, enter her fourth season as the Director of Basketball Operations with the program, while Liz Sowers is in her first year as a graduate assistant coach after serving as a manager last season.

Women's Hoops To Be Aired On KCWJ 1030 AM The Light & Hot Talk 1510 AM

Kangaroo fans will now have the opportunity to follow the UMKC women's basketball both home and away this season.  During the 2011-12 campaign, 30 of the 32 Kangaroo women's basketball games will be broadcast on the radio on KCWJ 1030 AM The Light and Hot Talk 1510 AM. T.J. Jackson will call all the play-by-play action for the 'Roos for the sixth straight season.

      KSMO, meanwhile, will broadcast four TV games this season, including Jan. 7 against South Dakota, Jan. 21 against IUPUI, Feb. 11 against South Dakota State and Feb. 25 against IPFW.

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