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Lady Trojans prepare for Bearcat Invitational

Sports Editor

Last week, the 2001-02 Troy State women’s basketball team found out what it was like to win on the road, beating Birmingham Southern 65-57 on Saturday.

This weekend they’ll take the show to Cincinnati, Ohio, where they’ll face the unbeaten Bearcats (6-0) in the Active Ankle Bearcat Invitational on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Although the Lady Trojans (3-2) have won three straight, including two Atlantic Sun Conference games, head coach Jerry Hester knows his team will have problems dealing with Cincinnati.

"We’re facing a mountainous climb ahead of us this weekend," he said.

The Bearcats handed 8-2 Nebraska a 89-51 loss and beat Xavier – a team which knocked perennial power Tennessee out of the NCAA tournament last year – 62-56.

But Hester welcomes the chance for his team to perhaps make a statement in Ohio.

"It’s very difficult to pull off a win on the road against an experienced team," he said. "I’d certainly be surprised if we went up there and did not play well, but is that enough to pull out a win? I don’t know. They don’t give you money to come up there and beat them. Of course, if you were to win, it would get the college basketball world’s attention, but you don’t see that done too many times."

The Lady Trojans will face either East Tennessee State or Belmont on Sunday to conclude the Bearcat Invitational. TSU then travels to No. 25 Auburn on Dec. 20 and hosts Louisiana-Monroe on Dec. 29.

Troy State continues conference play on Jan. 5, 2002 at Belmont.

"We want to use these games as learning experiences," said Hester about the four upcoming contests. "We’re not as good right now at rebounding and defense, but we play well against the zone. Our man-to-man (defense) is not where I’d like it to be also. It’s all about execution right now and if you can execute against these experienced teams then you should be able to execute when conference comes around."

Saturday’s game will be a return home for three Lady Trojan players. Guards Laura Schwendeman, Kerri Fiehrer and Heather Kaiser all played their high school ball in Ohio. Kaiser played AAU basketball with Cincinnati player Micha Harvey.

"I’m sure the game is something those girls are looking forward to," said Hester.

Cincinnati has won the two-day tournament since its inception in 1995.

The Bearcats are led by Debbie Merrill’s 18 point-per-game average, also collecting 8.7 boards per contest. Valerie King (17.7 ppg) and Tamara Douglas (12.7 ppg) also average double digit scoring.

Chaquita Alexander (14.4 ppg) is TSU’s leading scorer, while Thea Herring is averaging almost a double-double per game. Herring is averaging 13.6 points per game and 9.2 rebounds.