Courtesy: UMKC Athletics/MSH Photography
Kangaroos Head North For Matchup With Golden Gophers
Courtesy:UMKC Athletics
Release:12/06/2012

The Kansas City women's basketball team (4-5) will be on the road for the third straight weekend when it heads to Minneapolis, Minn., for a 7 p.m. contest against Minnesota (7-3) at Williams Arena.

Opponent Preview

Minnesota enters the contest with a 7-3 record overall, including wins over Washington State, Villanova and Missouri.  Rachel Banham leads the Golden Gophers in scoring at 19.2 ppg, while Micaella Riche is the only other player in double figures at 12.6 ppg.  On the glass, Riche's 7.2 rpg is tops on the team, while Banham has team-highs of 4.2 apg and 2.6 spg.  As a team, the Gophers are out-shooting opponents .445 to .385 from the field, including .359 to .268 from three-point range, while out-rebounding opponents 40.4 to 34.9.

Series Records

This will be the third meeting between the two school with the Golden Gophers holding a 2-0 advantage.  In the first meeting, Minnesota won 88-53 in Minneapolis on Dec. 13, 2002, before winning on Dec. 7 the following year in Kansas City, 79-53.

Coaching Matchup

Renowned for her top-notch recruiting classes, Marsha Frese enters her first season as head women's basketball coach at UMKC.  Named as the Kangaroo head coach on April 25, 2012, Frese brings 15 seasons of experience as a Division-I player and coach to the UMKC campus.  Prior to UMKC, Frese served as the associate head coach at Northern Illinois and Illinois, while serving as an assistant at Ball State, Maryland and Minnesota during her career.

      Pam Borton has put her mark on the Minnesota women's basketball program in her 10 seasons as head coach. Borton has guided the Golden Gophers to a Final Four, three Sweet Sixteens, six NCAA Tournament appearances and three seasons of 25 or more wins, while also becoming the winningest head coach in program history in her ninth season at the helm.  Borton owns a career coaching record of 265-171 (.608), which includes a mark of 196-125 (.611) at Minnesota.

The Venue

One of the most iconic venues in sports, Williams Arena is home to Golden Gopher Men's & Women's Basketball. With its famed raised floor left intact, the arena received a makeover in 2012 as center-hung LED scoreboards, LED fascia boards and sound systems were installed.

                                                                                                                        Last Time Out

Junior Eilise O'Connor scored a career-high 30 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 from three-point range, to go along with seven assists, five rebounds and two steals to lead the Kansas City women's basketball team to a 66-58 win over Air Force in the opener of the Air Force Classic at Clune Arena.  Junior Hailey Houser was the only other player in double figures, finishing with a career-high 12 points.

      The 'Roos followed it with a 71-64 to Boise State on Saturday afternoon despite O'Connor posting a career-high 13 assists, 23 points and five rebounds.  Sophomore Lexis Hardiek added 15 points, knocking down five of the 'Roos 10 threes, while grabbing a career-high four rebounds for the Kangaroos.

O'Connor Grabs 'Roos Second Straight Player of the Week

Eilise O'Connor was named The Summit League Player of the Week after averaging 26.5 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and 1.5 steals per game with a 2.9 assist/turnover ratio. She also shot 52 percent (15-of-29) from the floor, including 89 percent (8-of-9) from long-range.  She scored a career-high 30 points and dished out seven assists while shooting 56 percent (9-of-16) from the field.  The junior guard followed that up with a 23-point, career-high 13-assist and five-rebound performance vs. Boise State. She connected on all four of her 3-point attempts against the Broncos and was named to the Air Force Classic All-Tournament Team.

O'Connor Named All-Tournament

Eilise O'Connor captured her second career all-tournament team honor after being named to the Air Force Classic All-Tournament Team with averages of 26.5 points, 10.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals, while hitting 8-of-9 from three-point range in the win over Air Force and the loss to Boise State.

Taking Care of the Rock

The Kangaroos are currently averaging just 13.2 turnovers per game, , the top mark in The Summit League and the 12th best mark in the NCAA, just over two more per game than the national leader.  Their assist to turnover ratio, meanwhile, ranks 84th at 0.87, while their 2.56 turnover margin is 89th.  Individually, point guard Eilise O'Connor sits 87th in the NCAA at 4.5 assists per game and 69th with a 1.89 assist turnover ratio.

Hot from Outside

Sophomore Lexis Hardiek has begun to heat up from beyond the three-point arc and is now hitting 53.3% of her three-point attempts, the 10th best mark in the nation.  As a team, the Kangaroos currently rank 44th in the nation with 35.4% mark from three-point range, the second best mark in the league.

Coaching Family

Kansas City head coach Marsha Frese comes from a strong coaching family as her sister, Brenda Frese, serves as the head coach at the University of Maryland.  Since her first season at the helm when the team won just 10 games, Frese has guided Maryland to a National Championship in 2006, nine winning seasons, eight-straight 20-win seasons, four 30-win campaigns and eight trips to the NCAA Tournament. In 2006-07, Maryland also received its first-ever No. 1 preseason national ranking, remaining in the top spot in the polls for 10-consecutive weeks.

Nezianya Claims Summit League POW Honors

Kim Nezianya was named The Summit League Player of the Week on Nov. 26 after averaging 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals per contest while shooting 44 percent (18-of-41) from the field, 40 percent (2-of-5) from behind the arc and 71 percent (5-of-7) at the line.  Nezianya earns the award after being named to the LIU Turkey Classic All-Tournament Team and collecting her 16th career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in a loss at VCU.

Nezianya Named All-Tournament

Senior Kim Nezianya was named to the LIU Turkey Classic All-Tournament Team after averaging 16.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.0 apg and 2.0 spg., while shooting 50.0% from three-point range.

Road Trip

After opening the season with the first four games at home, the 'Roos are in the midst of a six game road trip and a span of 10 road games out of 12 contest.  Currently the squad holds a 2-3 mark in the contest with victories over LIU Brooklyn and Air Force.

Summit League Ranks

Kim Nezianya currently ranks second in the league in scoring (15.1), while ranking fifth in FG% (47.3) and sixth in rebounding (6.7).  Lexis Hardiek, meanwhile, is third in 3-pt.% (53.3), while Eilise O'Connor is 10th in FT% (75.6) and second in assists (4.5).  Defensively, Ashli Hill ranks second in blocks (1.7), while Hailey Houser is seventh (0.9).

300th Win

The UMKC women's basketball program picked up its 300th win with its 69-64 win over Southeast Missouri State on Nov. 12.

Future 'Roos in the Fold

Head Coach Marsha Frese and the Kansas City women's basketball team added three future 'Roos to the mix during the early signing period with the addition of 5-7 point guard Calli White, 6-0 forward Taylor Strickland and 6-1 forward Grace Mitchell.  The trio will represent the first signing class under Frese.  White and Strickland join the 'Roos as all-state performers out of Arkansas where they are teammates on Team Arkansas AAU team, while Mitchell comes from Plano, Texas and was her team's MVP a season ago.

O' Captain

Senior forward Kim Nezianya and junior guard Eilise O'Connor were named as the Team Captains in a vote by the team's players and coaches.  The players were selected after members of the team went through an evaluation process with their teammates and coaches.

'Roos Tabbed Second in Summit League Preseason Poll

The Kansas City women's basketball team was picked to finish second in The Summit League this season in a vote by the league head coaches, SID's and media.

School (1st place votes)                                        Points

1. South Dakota State (22)                                            330

2. Kansas City (1)                                                              260

3. Oakland                                                                               234

4. North Dakota State                                                      221

5. IUPUI (1)                                                                              213

6. South Dakota                                                                   151

7. Western Illinois                                                              138

8. Fort Wayne (1)                                                                    96

9. Omaha                                                                                    43

O'Connor and Nezianya Honored by the League

Senior forward Kim Nezianya and junior guard Eilise O'Connor were each selected to the Preseason First Team All-Summit League.  Kansas City teammates Nezianya, an all-tournament team honoree last season, and O'Connor, and Honorable Mention All-League selection, represent the only teammates on the First Team after helping the Kangaroos to just their second appearance all-time in the championship game last year.

College Sports Madness Recognizes a Trio of 'Roos

Kansas City women's basketball junior Eilise O'Connor was named to the preseason First Team All-Summit League, while senior Kim Nezianya and junior Ashli Hill were each named to the Second Team according to College Sports Madness.

Rockin' 'Roo Talent Show

The women's basketball team walked away the winners of the third annual Rockin' Roo Talent Show on April 12.  This year's event was held at the Student Union Theater on the UMKC campus and consisted of celebrity judges evaluating nine teams and their acts in front of a crowd of 300.

Cousins on the Roster

The UMKC roster will feature cousins Kelsey Barnwell and Lauren Dudding this season after the duo each decided to join the 'Roos out of separate states.  Barnwell comes to the squad out of Kansas, Okla., while Dudding is a Lubbock, Texas, native.  Junior Eilise O'Connor, meanwhile, enters her third season in the Blue & Gold after becoming familiar with the school thanks to her cousin and UMKC Hall of Famer Katie Houlehan.

Teammates Reunited

This season, senior Emile Blakesley and junior Kara Lee are reunited on the court after spending the 2010-11 season as teammates at Hutchinson Community College.  That year, the duo helped the Blue Dragons to 29-4 record, a conference championship and a spot in the NJCAA Region VI Semifinals.

Nezianya on the Glass

Senior forward Kim Nezianya entered the 2012-13 season as the leading active rebounder in The Summit League with 592. After leading the Kangaroos in rebounding in each of her first three seasons, along with her 47 rebounds this season, the Carrollton, Texas, native now has 639 in her career, fifth most in school history.

Kansas City Record Book

Several members of the current Kansas City women's basketball team have already placed their names in the school's record book.  Senior Kim Nezianya is currently fifth all-time in rebounds with 639 in her career and ninth in three-point percentage at .354, while her 263 rebounds  and .392 three-point percentage last season rank sixth and 10th, respectively.  Junior Ashli Hill, meanwhile, is second all-time in blocks with 154, while her total from her freshman and sophomore seasons rank fourth and fifth all-time.  Junior Eilise O'Connor, the final 'Roo, sits seventh in free throw percentage (.777) and ninth in assists (252) in her career, while  ranking third in assists (154) and eighth in free throws made (104) and attempted (136) in a season.

Swinney Recreation Center

The home of UMKC Athletics, the Swinney Recreation Center houses the Kangaroo administration, coaches and student-athletes. The Dutton Brookfield Strength and Conditioning Center, the Victor F. Swyden Athletics Training Facility and the Student-Athlete Support Services Office also are located in the facility.  Over the past three seasons, the facility has received a major face-lift including upgraded bleachers and a new floor installed this past summer.

Last Season

Last season, the Kansas City women's basketball team had one of its best ever, finishing 22-12, making it to the championship game of The Summit League Tournament and appearing for the first time ever in the WNIT, while four 'Roos earned postseason honors for their play on the court.

2012 Kansas City Women's Basketball Team Accomplishments

  • 22 win is the 2nd most in school history and only second 20 win season
  • 6 road wins is most in school history
  • 12 home wins is 3rd most in school history
  • 4 neutral court wins is the most in school history
  • Played in Summit League Tournament Championship Game for the 2nd time in school history
  • Defeated three RPI top-100 teams
  • Led The Summit League in off. rebound % (.357) and off. rebounding (14.3)
  • Had five comeback wins when trailing by double-digits

2011-12 Individual Honors

Last season, several 'Roos received individual honors, including Dayon Hall-Jones who was named First Team All-Summit League by the league and Second Team by College Sports Madness, to the All-Summit League Tournament, to the World Vision Basketball Invitational All-Tournament Team and league player of the week three times.  Eilise O'Connor, meanwhile, was named Honorable Mention All-League by the league and to the Third Team by College Sports Madness, while LeAndrea Thomas was named the league's Sixth Woman of the Year and league player of the week once and Kim Nezianya was named to the  Fourth Team All-League by College Sports Madness and to the All-Summit League Tournament Team.

The Seniors

This season, the 'Roos will be led by a pair of seniors in four-year member Kim Nezianya and second-year member Emile Blakesley.  In 2011-12, Nezianya averaged 11.1 ppg and 7.7 rpg, while being named to the All-Summit League Tournament Team, while Blakesley posted 2.4 ppg, 19 rebounds, 15 assists and 11 steals.

Fresh Faces

In 2012-13, the Kangaroo roster will feature five newcomers, including four freshman who will see plenty of action with just 12 players on the roster.  This year's club welcomes in junior college transfer Kara Lee, along with freshman Taylor Leathers, Jordan Evans, Lauren Dudding and Kelsey Barnwell.

The Staff

The 2012-13 Kansas City women's basketball coaching staff returns four members from last season's staff, while adding one new assistant coach.  Associate head coach Bruce Erickson enters his fourth season with the program, while assistant coach Meredith Doyle enters her third year at UMKC.  Jessica Trahan, meanwhile, enters her fifth season as the Director of Basketball Operations with the program, while Liz Sowers is in her second year as a graduate assistant coach after serving as a graduate manager.  Danielle Gratton is the final member of the staff, serving as the squad's other assistant in her first season.

'Roos In The Classroom

Last season, eight 'Roos were named to The Summit League Academic All-League team, Kaycie Boyles, Sydney Crimmins, Brianna Eldridge, Dayon Hall-Jones, Lexis Hardiek, Kelsey Knoche, Kim Nezianya and Eilise O'Connor.  In order to be named to academic all-league team, each student-athlete must post a GPA of 3.0 or higher in the semester in which they compete.  Additionally, Boyles, Crimmins, Hardiek, Knoche and O'Connor were each named a Distinguished Scholar for posting a GPA above 3.6.

      Meanwhile, Boyles, Eldridge, Hall-Jones, Hailey Houser, Knoche, Nezianya and O'Connor, were named to the Commissioner's List of Academic Excellence for posting a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better. 

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 2012-13 campaign, all 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 seventh straight season.

                        KSMO, meanwhile, will broadcast two TV games this season, including Nov. 8 against Colorado and Dec. 28 against Omaha.

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