Little Rock (LR) women’s basketball enters its fifth NCAA tournament in the last 10 years on a high, coming off a 54-53 win over Texas State in the Sun Belt Championship last Sunday. On Monday, LR was named the 14-seed in the tournament and will play three-seeded Florida State on Saturday at 10 a.m. on ESPN2.
Players are confident in their chances in Tallahassee, Florida. Junior forward Raeyana DeGray told the Forum’s Benjamin Howard, “We can beat ‘em,” at Monday’s announcement watch party.
Perhaps LR has reason to be confident. The team’s currently on an eight-game winning streak which stretches back to Feb. 17, and they avenged their last loss, a Feb. 10 overtime defeat against Troy, in the Sun Belt Tournament.
But there’s cause for concern, too. Away from the Jack Stephens Center, the Trojans haven’t fared as well, going 8-6. Against top-ranked opponents this season, the team has lost by a combined 55 points in just two games.
And Florida State is no slouch. The Seminoles have gone 25-6 this season and registered a 13-1 home record. Unfortunately for the Trojans, Florida State will have the home crowd in Tallahassee.
Despite the challenges, LR has a recent history of doing well when tournament time comes around. In their last tournament appearance in 2015, the team beat Texas A&M in the first round and only lost by three points to Arizona State in the second round.
In the 2017 WNIT, the team beat Southern Miss in the first round and lost to Alabama by two in the second round.
LR will rely on seniors Monique Townson and Keanna Keys to lead the team in Tallahassee, and perhaps beyond. Townson, the Trojans’ minutes leader, has averaged eight points and four assists per game this season, while Keys has averaged eight points and five rebounds per game.
Junior Ronjanae DeGray will prove crucial as well. She’s averaged 14 points and six rebounds a game this season.
If LR beats Florida State, the competition won’t get easier. They’d face South Florida (26-7) or Buffalo (27-5) on Monday.