AUSTIN PEAY LADY GOVS (0-0, 3-7): Austin Peay dropped a 75-44 contest at Arkansas State in its only game of the Week. Senior Meghan Bussabarger and freshman Alexis Hardaway paced the team with eight points each. The Lady Govs return to action on Friday when they host Lipscomb.
BELMONT BRUINS (0-0, 5-6): Belmont defeated Georgia State (85-62) at home before falling at Ole Miss (63-48) last week. Junior Molly Ernst scored 23 points, including seven three pointers in the win over Georgia State. Senior Jordan Coleman was one rebound shy of recording a double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds against Georgia State. At Ole Miss, Coleman posted her third double-double of the year with a game-high 14 points and 11 rebounds. Coleman is the only OVC player that is averaging a double-double this season with 10.5 points and 10.1 rebounds each time out. Belmont will travel to Cincinnati on Friday.
EASTERN ILLINOIS PANTHERS (0-0, 5-5): Eastern Illinois dropped a pair of road games last week, falling at Wisconsin (76-47) and Western Illinois (70-68). Mariah King scored 18 points in the loss at WIU on 8-of-12 shooting to go with five rebounds. Ta’Kenya Nixon nearly missed her second career triple-double at WIU with nine points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. In the two games Kings averaged 11.5 points and 4.5 rebounds while connecting on 41.7 percent of her shot attempts. Nixon added 8.5 points and 6.0 rebounds each time out. Eastern Illinois have yet to win a game on the road this season. The Panthers will continue its seven-game road trip on Wednesday as it travels to Northern Illinois.
EASTERN KENTUCKY LADY COLONELS (0-0, 5-5): Eastern Kentucky had last week off. The Lady Colonels are coming off a two-game road losing streak. Eastern Kentucky returns home, where it is undefeated, on Tuesday as it hosts West Virginia State.
JACKSONVILLE STATE GAMECOCKS (0-0, 0-11): Jacksonville State fell to Chattanooga (72-59) and dropped both games in the Hampton Inn Oceanfront Holiday Classic hosted by North Florida. The Gamecocks fell to host UNF (52-45) and Campbell (66-53). Sophomore Briana Marrow was named to the all-tournament team after posting a pair of double figure games. She had 10 points versus UNF and a team-high 13 against Campbell. Junior Dashauna Truss scored 12 first-half points in the loss to Campbell. Freshman Peyton Hisel scored eight of JSU’s 14-0 scoring run against Campbell. Jacksonville State closes out its non-conference portion of the schedule on Thursday as it travels to Mississippi State.
MOREHEAD STATE EAGLES (0-0, 1-9): Morehead State fell at Georgia State (61-47) in its only game of the week. Junior Terrice Robinson led the team with 10 points, marking her eighth game scoring in double figures. Sophomore Casey Ryans registered a career-best 10 rebounds. She averaged 11 points and 8.5 rebounds in the last two games. Morehead State has attempted the fewest free throws in the league this year at 117, but the Eagles are hitting 70 percent. Morehead State was 5-for-5 from the line at GSU. Sophomore Almesha Jones ranks third in the league with 2.7 steals per game. Morehead State will close out its two-game road trip at UAB on Tuesday before hosting Kent State on Friday.
MURRAY STATE RACERS (0-0, 7-3): Murray State extended its winning streak to seven straight games as the Racers defeated Alabama A&M, 69-54. Senior Mariah Robinson led the Racers for the sixth time this season with 19 points. The game marked the third straight contest in which she shot 50 percent from the field. Freshman Kelsey Dirks had 11 points and six rebounds. The Racers will travel to Missouri on Thursday.
SOUTHEAST MISSOURI REDHAWKS (0-0, 5-6): Southeast Missouri fell at Western Kentucky, 60-46, in its only game of the week. Freshman Kayla Wright earned her first career start and scored a season-high 15 points versus WKU. She shot 66.7 percent from the floor. Wright also recorded eight rebounds, two assists and two steals. Patricia Mack brought down 10 rebounds despite playing just 20 minutes due to foul trouble. It was Mack’s fifth straight game with 10 or more boards. Since opening the season 28-of-62 from three point range, the Redhawks have made only 33-of-140 from beyond the arch in the eight games since. Southeast Missouri will host Missouri State on Friday.
SIUE COUGARS (0-0, 6-5): SIUE fell at Indiana, 73-56, in its only game of the week. Freshman CoCo Moore led the team with 14 points on 71.4 percent shooting. She came off the bench to help the Cougar bench outscore the Hoosiers, 32-19. Moore has 27 offensive rebounds and 24 defensive rebounds this season. Raven Berry is averaging 9.0 rebounds this year to be ranked in the top 100. The Cougars will travel to Southern Illinois on Friday.
TENNESSEE STATE LADY TIGERS (0-0, 3-6): Tennessee State fell to Cleveland State, 66-59, at home last week. Senior Kesi Hess led the team with 11 points and seven rebounds against Cleveland State. The Lady Tigers will look to snap a three-game losing streak as they travel across town to face Lipscomb on Tuesday.
TENNESSEE TECH GOLDEN EAGLES (0-0, 5-6): Tennessee Tech dropped both games in the St. John’s Chartwell’s Holiday Classic. The Golden Eagles fell to host St. John’s (58-46) and St. Mary’s (73-58). Tech held St. John’s to 30 percent shooting. Molly Head led the Golden Eagles with 12 points against the Red Storm. Senior Jala Harris averaged 16.0 points over the two games. She scored 22 points versus St. Mary’s and scored 10 points against St. John’s. Harris also dished out six assists over the two games. Tennessee Tech will travel to Marshall on Saturday.
UT MARTIN SKYHAWKS (0-0, 4-8): UT Martin fell to Indiana State, 73-71, in overtime. Junior Heather Butler scored 26 points, 24 of them coming in the second half. She also recorded seven assists and four steals. Butler has now scored in double-digit points in 75 straight games. Freshman Chelsey Hall scored a career-high seven points. Junior Rickiesha Bryant had four blocks against Indiana State to give her 17 for the season and 85 in her career which is fourth best in school history. UT Martin will host Southern Miss on Tuesday and travel to UAB on Saturday.
UPCOMING OVC SCHEDULE
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 18
West Virginia State at Eastern Kentucky – 6 p.m.
Tennessee State at Lipscomb – 6:30 p.m.
Morehead State at UAB – 7 p.m.
Southern Miss at UT Martin – 7 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 19
Eastern Illinois at Northern Illinois – 7 p.m.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 20
Jacksonville State at Mississippi State – 7 p.m.
Murray State at Missouri – 7 p.m.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21
Belmont at Cincinnati – 12 p.m.
Kent State at Morehead State – 6 p.m. (OVC Digital Network)
Missouri State at Southeast Missouri – 6:30 p.m. (OVC Digital Network)
Southern Illinois at SIUE – 7 p.m. (OVC Digital Network)
Lipscomb at Austin Peay – 7:05 p.m. (OVC Digital Network)
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 22
Tennessee Tech at Marshall – 1 p.m.
UT Martin at UAB – 2 p.m.
ALL TIMES CENTRAL
adidas® OVC Players of the Week – December 18
Heather Butler, G • Jr., 5’6 • Medina, Tenn. • UT Martin
Butler led all players with 26 points against Indiana State. She recorded a pair of free throws in the first half and came back to net 24 points in the second stanza. She tied the game at 60-all with a layup with six seconds left in regulation. Butler also gave the Skyhawks the 71-70 lead with 12 seconds left in the overtime period. She finished the game with seven assists and four steals.
Others Nominated: Molly Ernst, Belmont; Mariah Robinson, Murray State; Kara Wright, Southeast Missouri; CoCo Moore, SIUE; Kesi Hess, Tennessee State; Jala Harris, Tennessee Tech
Jordan Coleman, F • Sr., 5’11 • Orlando, Fla. • Belmont
Coleman helped Belmont split a pair of games last week. In the win over Georgia State, she scored 15 points and brought down nine boards. Against Ole Miss, Coleman racked up her third double-double of the season with a game-high 14 points on a season-best seven field goals and a game-high 11 rebounds. She finished the week with eight assists, three steals and one block. Coleman stands as the only OVC player averaging a double-double.
Others Nominated: Dashauna Truss, Jacksonville State;
Kara Wright, G • Fr., 5’11 • Louisvile, Ky. • Southeast Missouri
Wright earned her first career start at Western Kentucky. She scored a season-high 15 points while also bringing down a season-best eight rebounds in 37 minutes on the floor. She made 6-of-9 from the floor en route to recording her first career double-digit scoring game. Wright also added two assists, two steals and two blocks.
Others Nominated: Peyton Hisel, Jacksonville State; Kelsey Dirks, Murray State; CoCo Moore, SIUE; Chelsey Hall, UT Martin
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Titans finally have their first victory in a month. It was an ugly game against the New York Jets that they had no business winning, and that’s OK with them.
Yes, winning really is all that matters.
The Titans overcame a blocked field goal, two shanked punts by the player who’s been their most reliable and an offense that managed one drive when it mattered most. There were a few highlights in Monday night’s ugly 14-10 win: a franchise-record touchdown run from Chris Johnson, and the defense forced five turnovers and had four sacks.
Coach Mike Munchak called the win good for not just all the coaches and players but for everyone associated with the team after a tough stretch the past few weeks.
“So I think last night was just a feeling of relief,” Munchak said Tuesday. “Playing hard and not always playing our best or making all the plays that were there, but hanging together for four quarters. It was interesting all the way to the end and win a football game. It’s exactly what we needed and helps to build on the next one.”
That may be easier said than done. Unlike the bumbling Jets, the Titans (5-9) visit Green Bay (10-4) on Sunday. The Packers have clinched the NFC North and want momentum going into the postseason.
Tennessee players had Tuesday off. When they return to practice, coaches will have a few decisions to make.
The staff must decide who starts at center now that Kevin Matthews has a high right ankle sprain that will keep him out the rest of the season, the fifth offensive lineman lost to injury this season and the second center. Rookie Kendall Wright, their leading receiver with 62 catches, thought he cracked a rib and was being evaluated Tuesday.
“We won is all that matters right now,” Munchak said. “We need to figure out for the next game how to score more points and build off of that. So you’d rather build off of at least we found a way to win a football game.”
The Titans still have plenty to figure out after the win in which the final three plays sum up just how ugly it was.
Johnson ran for 2 yards on third-and-8, getting the ball out to the Tennessee 6. Brett Kern, the punter who had been averaging 42.2 net yards on his punts this season, shanked a punt under pressure that fluttered through the air only 19 yards. That set the Jets up to win the game at the Tennessee 25 with 47 seconds left.
Only Mark Sanchez’s inability to corral a low snap in the shotgun that rookie linebacker Zach Brown covered up sealed Tennessee’s first win since beating Miami 37-3 on Nov. 11.
“It’s been like that all season,” Titans safety Michael Griffin said after the game. “It was no different. I’m just glad we were finally able to get things turned around and have the ball finally bounce our way.”
Really the only offensive highlights for the Titans came on Johnson’s 94-yard TD run in the second quarter, padding his NFL record to six TDs of 80 yards or longer. It was Johnson’s third such TD this season, tying him with Barry Sanders in 1997 as the only NFL players to notch three TDS of 80 yards or longer in a single season.
Jake Locker ran for a 13-yard touchdown on a quarterback sweep left late in the third quarter that provided the winning margin. The other big highlight is Locker did not turn the ball over once after losing nine turnovers combined the previous three games. The Titans are 3-1 this season when not turning the ball over even once.
Tennessee went three-and-out six times and didn’t score a single point off the five turnovers despite Jason McCourty‘s first interception setting them up at their own 48 late in the first half and his second put them at the Jets 46 early in the third.
The Titans also had a season-high both with 14 penalties and 111 yards, which Munchak called part of “growing up.”
Kern, who a career-long 71-yarder earlier this season, also had another poor punt that set up the Jets at the Titans 35 for New York’s lone touchdown. Kern took to Twitter after the game to apologize.
But a defense that came in 31st giving up 29.9 points per game got a season-high in turnovers, including four interceptions. McCourty doubled what he had this season, while Griffin came in with only one.
The Titans also may get middle linebacker Colin McCarthy back after he missed three games with a concussion, which would be a big boost too.
“We’re trending in the right direction,” Munchak said.
ST. LOUIS — Hopeful that the trade can benefit both parties, Skip Schumaker, speaking shortly after the Dodgers finalized a deal to acquire the utility infielder/outfielder, expressed gratitude for the opportunities the Cardinals had given him for more than a decade. Schumaker also conveyed his excitement about a new opportunity in an ideal location.
The Cardinals traded Schumaker to Los Angeles last Wednesday for Minor League infielder Jake Lemmerman. Schumaker’s departure ended an 11-year tenure with an organization that drafted and developed him out of the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Schumaker went on to make his Major League debut with the Cardinals in 2005, establishing himself as a versatile bench player and valued teammate.
“It’s tough leaving St. Louis, because I’ve made some lifelong friends and my wife has made lifelong friends and my kids have, too,” Schumaker said. “I grew up in this organization, and it’s tough to say goodbye to a really good thing. But it’s something that I think had to happen from both sides, and other than being in St. Louis, I couldn’t think of a better situation for my family than to be traded here. I grew up watching the Dodgers and rooting for the Dodgers.”
Schumaker and his family also still maintain their permanent residence in Southern California, approximately an hour-long drive from Dodger Stadium. That will allow Schumaker to live at home during the season. He said it’s a no-brainer that he’ll make the daily commute.
“I have to be pretty thankful that [general manager John Mozeliak] and the Cardinals were looking out for my best interest,” Schumaker said. “There could have been another 28 teams he sent me to, and he sent me to a contender and close to home. I’m used to winning in St. Louis and I don’t think I could have gotten used to losing somewhere else. I feel very fortunate to have landed where I did.”
When Schumaker signed a two-year contract with the Cardinals exactly one year ago, he never intended finishing out the deal elsewhere. But it became evident during the second half of the 2012 season that Schuamker’s role was permanently diminishing. He started only 29 games after July (none in the postseason) and watched Daniel Descalso emerge as the team’s everyday second baseman.
Curious about how the Cardinals viewed Schumaker’s standing for 2013, his agent, Nez Balelo, met with Mozeliak during the offseason. Schumaker, through Balelo, did not demand a trade, but it became evident that both clubs saw it as mutually beneficial to separate.
“I feel like I’m a good role player on a good team,” Schumaker said. “I just didn’t see how I was going to fit anymore when there were other guys that were in my normal spot that would take my at-bats. I saw the writing on the wall and then thought maybe they were thinking the same thing as me.”
In joining the Dodgers, Schumaker will be reunited with Los Angeles’ new hitting coach, Mark McGwire, who began working with Schumaker even before he returned to the Majors in a coaching role, and longtime friend and former Cardinals teammate Nick Punto.
Schumaker said he has not yet discussed his potential role on the team with manager Don Mattingly and general manager Ned Colletti, but he expects that he’ll serve as the team’s fourth outfielder and backup second baseman.
“I just feel like there might be a more defined role, which is what you’re looking for,” Schumaker said. “You don’t want to go in and not know where you fit, and I think that’s where I was in St. Louis.”
Schumaker ends his Cardinals career with a .288 batting average, .345 on-base percentage and 211 RBIs in 810 games. He’ll face his former club for the first time during a three-game series in Los Angeles from May 24-26. The Dodgers then travel to St. Louis in early August.
Asked how he hopes to be remembered by those in St. Louis, Schumaker offered the following:
“I knew my role, and I never got away from that,” he said. “I felt like I was a team player and did everything the organization asked. I never complained. I did what was asked and did whatever I could to help the team win. That’s it. And that’s all I should be remembered for. I don’t think people are going to miss me too much, but I hope I was a good teammate.”
ATLANTA — Braves general manager Frank Wren will continue to evaluate different opportunities to improve his club over the next few weeks and months. But as he looks at the current makeup of his roster, he believes he already has the makings of a pretty strong team.
“Right now we feel comfortable about how our team comes together,” Wren said. “Can we get better? Sure. But we also feel like we can be very competitive the way we are.”
At the start of this week, Wren had his visions of acquiring a leadoff hitter by trading for Shin-Soo Choo. He remained optimistic about landing Choo up until he learned that the Indians were instead including Choo in the three-way deal that brought highly-regarded pitching prospect Trevor Bauer, veteran outfielder Drew Stubbs and two relievers to Cleveland.
With Choo off the board, it appears less clear whether the Braves will end up acquiring an outfielder before the start of the regular season.
Wren has indicated that he does not have much interest in the outfielders remaining on the free-agent market. So if the Braves end up adding another outfielder, it seems likely that they would do so via trade.
Once Josh Hamilton chose to sign a five-year, $125 million deal with the Angels on Thursday, the buzz around the Hot Stove market focused on whether the Angels would react by trading speedy outfielder Peter Bourjos or power-hitting outfielder Mark Trumbo.
While the Braves would certainly have interest in Trumbo, there does not seem to be much belief that the Angels will end up trading the 26-year-old outfielder who will not be arbitration-eligible until the end of this upcoming season.
Because the Braves already have acquired a strong defensive center fielder with their signing of B.J. Upton, there does not seem to be much of a fit for Bourjos, whose greatest value may come courtesy of his glove.
While Bourjos has the speed to serve as a leadoff hitter, multiple scouts have indicated that they do not see him as a fit in that role. Bourjos, who will turn 26 on March 31, has hit .247 with a .301 on-base percentage in 940 career plate appearances at the Major League level.
The Braves have expressed interest in acquiring the speedy and versatile Emilio Bonifacio from the Blue Jays. But through these attempts, they have gained the sense that Toronto is not very interested in moving Bonifacio.
Another popular name on the trade front has been Dexter Fowler, who would likely welcome the opportunity to play in his hometown of Atlanta alongside his good friend Jason Heyward. But with some uncertainty within the ranks of the Rockies’ front office, the Braves have never gained a sense that Colorado will move Fowler for anything less than a significant return.
While continuing his search for an outfielder, Wren took time this week to sign veteran utility man Ramiro Pena to a one-year deal worth just north of the Major League minimum. The move raised some eyebrows, considering the Braves had already signed backup infielder Paul Janish to a Major League contract.
With the possibility that Janish could miss most of April recovering from shoulder surgery, the Braves signed Pena to add depth to their middle infield. Pena’s addition increases the likelihood that Tyler Pastornicky will spend most of the 2013 season with Triple-A Gwinnett.
Janish is viewed as a better defensive player than Pena. But because Janish is the only member of this duo with a Minor League option remaining, there is no guarantee that he would join the Atlanta roster once he is deemed healthy.
The switch-hitting Pena will be targeted to spend most of the season as a backup infielder in Atlanta. But if the Braves need somebody to replace shortstop Andrelton Simmons for a significant stretch, Janish would be more likely to draw the everyday assignment.