Eagles crack Top 25 in advance of Bellarmine Thanksgiving Classic


University of Southern Indiana Women’s Basketball debuted at No. 17 in the first regular-season edition of the 2017-18 Division II Media poll Tuesday and are receiving votes outside the USA Today Sports/Division II Coaches’ Poll.

The Screaming Eagles ranked as high as No. 15 in the Media Poll a year ago and No. 20 in the Coaches’ Poll.

USI (4-0) returns to action Saturday at noon (CST) when it takes on No. 25 Grand Valley State University at the Bellarmine Thanksgiving Classic in Louisville, Kentucky. The Eagles also play Northern Michigan University Sunday at noon before opening Great Lakes Valley Conference play the following week.

Both games can be heard on WSWI 95.7 FM, while live stats, audio and GLVC Sports Network coverage can be accessed at GoUSIEagles.com.

USI Women’s Basketball Notes (11/21)
• Last week.
USI Women’s Basketball posted a pair of Midwest Region victories with its 77-50 win over Ohio Dominican and its 77-54 triumph over previously unbeaten Wayne State. USI dominated the glass, out-rebounding its opposition by an average of 13.0 rebounds per game.

• Leaders. Senior guard/forward Kaydie Grooms (Marshall, Illinois) averaged 18.0 points and 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 2.5 assists per game to lead the Eagles last week. Senior forward Morgan Dahlstrom (Grayslake, Illinois) contributed 17.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per contest, while shooting a blistering 55.6 percent (15-27) from the field last week.

• Season Leaders. Grooms leads USI with 19.0 points per game, while Dahlstrom is chipping in 17.5 points and a team-high 9.8 rebounds per contest. Junior forward Kacy Eschweiler (St. Charles, Missouri) is chipping in 9.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per appearance, while senior guard Randa Harshbarger (Philo, Illinois) is contributing a team-high 4.3 assists and 4.5 steals per outing.

• Dahlstrom nets GLVC honor. Dahlstrom earned GLVC Player of the Week honors for her efforts in USI’s wins over Ohio Dominican and Wayne State. Dahlstrom had 15 points, nine rebounds and four steals in USI’s win over Ohio Dominican before racking up 19 points and eight rebounds in USI’s win over Wayne State.

• USI proficient from FT line. USI drained 82.3 percent (28-34) of its free throw opportunities last week. The Eagles were 13-of-16 from the charity stripe against Ohio Dominican and 15-of-18 against Wayne State.

• Eagles continue to rule second half. The Eagles have outscored their opponents by an average of 22.3 points per contest in the second halves of their first four contests. That included a 30-6 third-quarter in USI’s win over Ohio Dominican as well as a 24-2 third quarter in USI’s win over Northwood.

• Davidson, Sherwood each post career highs. Junior guard Alex Davidson (Salem, Indiana) and sophomore guard/forward Morgan Sherwood (Charleston, Illinois) each posted career highs last week. Davidson scored a career-best 10 points in USI’s win over Ohio Dominican and dished out a career-high five assists in USI’s win over Wayne State; while Sherwood had a career-best 11 points in USI’s win over Ohio Dominican.

• Dahlstrom’s double-double streak ends at two. Dahlstrom saw her streak of double-doubles to begin the year end at two after coming up one rebound shy of a third double-double in USI’s win over Ohio Dominican.

• Up next. The Eagles take on Midwest Region foes Grand Valley State and Northern Michigan at the Bellarmine Thanksgiving Classic in Louisville, Kentucky. Saturday’s matchup marks just the second time that USI and Grand Valley State have met in women’s basketball, while Sunday’s meeting with the Wildcats is the seventh time the Eagles and Northern Michigan have met in women’s hoops.

• A look at Grand Valley State. The Lakers, who qualified for the NCAA II Tournament a year ago, are off to a strong start to the 2017-18 season after posting four straight wins over GLVC opposition, including a 66-52 win over Lewis on Sunday and a 77-57 triumph over Indianapolis Friday.  Junior guard Natalie Koenig is one of four players averaging in double-figures in the scoring column with a team-best 15.3 points per contest.

• A look at Northern Michigan. Junior guard Darby Youngstown is averaging 14.8 points per game to lead the Wildcats, who begin the week with a 3-2 mark after going 2-1 against teams from the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Athletic Conference last week. Northern Michigan began the year with a win over Indianapolis and a loss to Lewis.

• USI, Northern Michigan have Tourney history. Of the six previous meetings between USI and Northern Michigan, two have been in the NCAA II Tournament and have had a regional title on the line. The Eagles defeated the host Wildcats, 78-67, to capture the 1997 Great Lakes Regional title. USI, once again, won a regional championship in 2001 when it defeated Northern Michigan, 86-77, in Houghton, Michigan.

• What’s ahead? Following this weekend’s slate, USI begins GLVC play with a home game November 30 against Lewis and a road game December 2 against Indianapolis.