Over the winter break, Little Rock (LR) women’s basketball emerged from a challenging non-conference slate to become 7-1 (11-8 overall) and tied for first place in Sun Belt competition. Led by coach Joe Foley in his 16th season, the Trojans are the defending Sun Belt champions and have made five NCAA Tournament appearances in the last nine seasons.
In late November, LR endured a testing three-game stretch against SEC competition. The Trojans fell to No. 20 Texas A&M (61-40) and No. 6 Mississippi State (98-63) at the Jack Stephens Center and lost to LSU (60-45) in Baton Rouge.
The three losses in nine days put the Trojans at 2-4 heading into December.
On Dec. 1, Foley’s squad played their fourth straight game against a 2018 NCAA Tournament team, dropping a 68-56 decision to Western Kentucky at home. Junior guard Kyra Collier achieved a career first – being the team’s leading scorer in consecutive games – as she poured in 22 points against the Hilltoppers as a starter after scoring 21 off the bench against Mississippi State. Little Rock only trailed by one at halftime and led halfway into the third quarter, but WKU’s 16-9 advantage on offensive boards led to a dominant fourth quarter.
A week later the Trojans overcame early struggles but fell short against Kansas State, a 2018 WNIT participant. The Wildcats jumped out to a 16-point lead in the 1st quarter, but Little Rock shaved the advantage throughout the next three quarters and pulled within one point in the third and three points with a minute left to play.
A day trip to Tulsa on Dec. 17 brought the Trojans a much-needed win, a 63-53 disposal of the Golden Hurricane. The win snapped a six-game losing skid dating back to Nov. 17. Three Trojans dipped into double digits, led by Ronjanae DeGray (19 points), Collier (13) and Tori Lasker (12). Sophomore guard Terrion Moore pulled down 12 rebounds, while Raeyana DeGray had eight. Little Rock commanded the offensive boards, logging 16 rebounds to Tulsa’s three.
The Trojans rounded out the non-conference schedule with a 63-60 win at Memphis on Dec. 21, which featured 15 points from Collier, and a 4-point defeat at Missouri State on Dec. 30.
LR opened Sun Belt play dominantly, thumping ULM by 19 at the Jack Stephens Center on Jan. 3. Ronjanae DeGray paced the Trojans with 23 points, while the Trojan defense forced 20 turnovers and limited the Warhawks to only one field goal in the first quarter.
Ronjanae DeGray and Collier registered double-doubles in the Trojans’ 62-48 dismantling of Louisiana on Dec. 5. DeGray posted 24 points and 11 rebounds, while Collier logged 17 points and 11 rebounds.
LR suffered its first conference loss Jan. 10 at Troy. Four Trojans scored in the double-digits, but Troy out-rebounded the visitors 51-30, including 24-6 on the offensive glass.
The Trojans responded with five consecutive Sun Belt victories, coming over South Alabama (65-42), Texas State (62-47), UT-Arlington (68-65), Coastal Carolina (60-47) and Appalachian State (74-59).
As of Jan. 28, Collier and Ronjanae DeGray lead the Trojans with 14.6 and 14.4 points per game, respectively. Collier has also logged a team-high 43 steals this season. Raeyana DeGray has pulled down 40 offensive rebounds, while her sister Ronjanae posted 37 offensive boards and 119 total rebounds.
Little Rock will next host Arkansas State at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2.