UMKC Heads To Western Illinois To Avenge Earlier Loss
UMKC Athletics 2-17-2012
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(Kansas City, Mo.)  -- The UMKC women's basketball team (16-10, 7-7) will make its final road trip of the season when it heads to Macomb, Ill., to take on Western Illinois (11-14, 7-7).  The game between the Kangaroos and the Leathernecks is slated for a 4:30 p.m. start at Western Hall.

On the Air and On the Web

Radio: 1030 AM (T.J. Jackson - p-b-p)

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Opponent Preview

Western Illinois enters the contest with a 11-14 record overall and a 7-7 mark in Summit League play after defeating Southern Utah on Monday.  Offensively, four Leathernecks are averaging nine or more points, including Sadie Webb (15.3), Valencia Kelly (11.5), Saule Kontautaite (9.9) and Michele Salvatori (9.4).  Salvatori, meanwhile, is tops on the team in rebounding at 6.5 per game, while Kelly's 84 assists are best on the team.  As a team, WIU is averaging 67.2 points per game.

Series Records

Western Illinois leads the all-time series with the 'Roos, 23-19, despite UMKC winning both contest in 2010-11.  In the first outing this season, WIU won 66-63 at the SRC.

Whitaker Against the Leathernecks

UMKC Head Coach Candace Whitaker is 8-6 all-time against Leathernecks including winning six of the last seven contest against Western Illinois.

First Meeting

The UMKC women's basketball team dropped a 66-63 contest on Jan. 23 to Western Illinois  at the Swinney Recreation Center, despite 18 points, seven assists and three rebounds by sophomore guard Eilise O'Connor.

      Senior guard Dayon Hall-Jones added 12 points in the effort, while sophomore Ashli Hill finished with 10 points and six blocks.  On the glass, junior Kaycie Boyles grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds to go along with eight points.  As a team, the 'Roos forced 17 Leatherneck turnovers, while giving it up only nine times.

Last Time Out

      The UMKC women's basketball team (16-10, 7-7) overcame a 13 point second half deficit to defeat North Dakota State (9-18, 6-9), 68-64, in a pivotal Summit League contest on Monday night at the Swinney Recreation Center.

      Leading the Kangaroos' comeback effort were sophomore Eilise O'Connor and senior LeAndrea Thomas, as the duo combined for 32 points, including shooting 13-of-14 from the line, eight steals and six assists in the win.

      As a team, the 'Roos forced 19 Bison turnovers, including 11 on steals, while committing just nine turnovers of their own.  Defensively, UMKC limited North Dakota State to just 33.3 percent shooting from the field.  Individually, Thomas finished with a team-high 17 points, while Thomas added 15.  Hall-Jones and Hill, meanwhile chipped in nine and eight, respectively.

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.

Taking Care Of The Rock

Over the last eight games, the 'Roos have been taking extra care of the basketball, as the squad is averaging only 13.75 turnovers per contest.  During that stretch, UMKC has turned the ball over less than 10 times on four occasions, the only four times all season.

1,000 Point Scorer?

UMKC senior Dayon Hall-Jones has a shot to reach 1,000 career points.  Currently, Hall-Jones is 70 points shy of becoming the 10th 1,000 point score in school history and would need to average 14.0 points per game (2.8 less than she is currently averaging) over the final five games (min.) to reach the mark. 

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 now sits third in steals (233), sixth in assists (303) and three-point field goals made (100) and seventh in games played (117) and three-point field goals attempted (292) .  Tinner, meanwhile, is tied for sixth in field goal percentage (.510) and tied for seventh in games played (115), while Hall-Jones is 10th in three-point field goal percentage (.351), sixth in free throws made (233) and seventh in free throws attempted (311).  Hill and Scaife, meanwhile, rank  third (129) and sixth (66), 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.


In the RPI rankings released by the NCAA, the Kangaroos appear as the 153rd ranked team in the nation and the fourth highest team in The Summit League trailing only South Dakota State (60), South Dakota (101) and Oral Roberts (1119).

'Roos In League Play

Three-fourths of the way through Summit League play, several 'Roos have stood out.  Senior Dayon Hall-Jones is averaging a team-high 15.6 points per game, while adding nearly two assists per game.  Junior Kim Nezianya, meanwhile, is scoring 11.0 points per game and grabbing 8.1 rebounds per game, while sophomore Eilise O'Connor is registering 12.3 points per game, 5.5 assists per game, 4.6 rebounds per game and 1.6 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 35.4 percent of its three-point attempts, the 24th best mark in the NCAA and made 6.3 three-point field goals per game, the 56th best mark.  Eight times this season, the Kangaroos have shot better than 40.0 percent from beyond the arc, while Kaycie Boyles (.400) and Kim Nezianya (.415) are both topping the 40 percent mark, individually.

Dishing It Out

26 games into the 2011-12 season the Kangaroos are averaging 15.0 assists per game, the second best mark in The Summit League.  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-11 in the league in assists, including   Eilise O'Connor (second-4.8 apg) and LeAndrea Thomas (11th-2.6 apg).

'Roos in the NCAA Rankings

As  of Feb. 12, the UMKC women's basketball team has placed itself in the top-50 of several NCAA categories, including sitting 24th in three-point percentage (35.4).  The 'Roos also rank 31st in scoring offense (71.9) and 40th in assists per game (15.1).  Individually, Dayon Hall-Jones ranks 52nd in scoring (17.4), while LeAndrea Thomas ranks 43rd in steals (2.8), Ashli Hill ranks 39th in blocks (2.1) and Eilise O'Connor ranks 47th in assists (4.8) and 85th in assist turnover ratio (1.49).

Atop The Summit League Rankings

As a team, the 'Roos have placed themselves atop the Summit League in three-point field goal percentage (.355) and offensive rebounds (13.9 orpg).  Individually, Brianna Eldridge leads in offensive rebounds (3.6 orpg).

Best Start in 20 Years

After defeating IUPUI on Jan. 21, the UMKC women's basketball team improved its record to 14-6, marking the second best start in school history, trailing only the 16-4  record by the 1991-92 squad.  That season, the 'Roos opened up with wins over Saint Louis, Oklahoma State, Missouri and South Carolina State before falling to Arkansas. 

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

Through the first 11 home games of the season, the 'Roos are off to a 10-3 start, tied for the third best home record in the school's Division I era.  As a team, the 'Roos are scoring nearly 77 points per game and winning by nearly 13 points per game.  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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