Women's Basketball Heads to Virginia for Cavalier Classic

Dec. 27, 2013

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The women’s basketball team (6-5) will take on Princeton (7-4) in game one of the Cavalier Classic on Saturday, Dec. 28, at 11 a.m. CT at the John Paul Jones Arena on the campus of the University of Virginia. The Crimson Tide’s second game of the tournament will take place on Sunday against either Coppin State (4-6) or Virginia (5-6) at either 11 a.m. CT or 1:30 p.m. CT.

Both games can be heard on the Crimson Tide Sports Network on Tide 99.1 FM with Mick Gillispie calling the action. Fans can also follow online via live scoring on RollTide.com or on Twitter @AlabamaWBB.

Alabama and Princeton are meeting for the first time, while the Crimson Tide has faced Coppin State once and Virginia three times. The lone meeting with the Eagles came on Dec. 3, 1993, where Alabama came out on top, 98-31, in Tuscaloosa. The Tide and Cavaliers met most recently in 2012, which resulted in a 73-70 overtime victory for Alabama. Virginia won the previous two meetings, a 69-48 win on Nov. 25, 2005, in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. and an 81-58 victory on Dec. 4, 1987, in Charlottesville.

Alabama moved to 6-5 after a thrilling 113-105 overtime win against Troy before the holiday break. Daisha Simmons, Shafontaye Myers and Ashley Williams combined for 93 points to lift the Crimson Tide to the victory. Simmons also added 11 rebounds and 11 assists, becoming the first UA player to record a triple-double since 1995 and first player in the SEC since 2010. In addition, Williams finished with 11 rebounds, notching the first double-double of her career. Myers continues to lead the Tide offense with an average of 15.0 points per game. She also leads the SEC and is 16th in the nation in three-point field goals, averaging 3.27 per game. Simmons leads the Tide in nearly every other category including rebounds (6.4 rpg), assists (5.3 apg), steals (2.6 spg) and minutes (33.8 mpg).

Princeton enters the tournament winners of four-straight games, most recently a 69-39 rout of Illinois State on Dec. 18. The Tigers have claimed the last four Ivy League Championships and are picked to win a fifth this season. As a team, Princeton averages 75.5 points per game and has scored over 80 points on four occasions this year. The Tigers are ranked 11th nationally in field goal percentage at 48.1 percent. Blake Dietrick leads Princeton in scoring with an average of 14.6 points per game, while Kristen Helmstetter pulls down a team-best 6.6 rebounds per outing.

The Coppin State Eagles are 4-6 on the year after losing two straight. The Eagles last faced American on Dec. 21, resulting in a 64-42 loss for Coppin State. Three players currently average 10 points or more, led by Kyra Coleman’s 15.3 point-per-game contribution. She is followed by Larrisa Carter (13.1 ppg) and Ashle Craig (10.4 ppg). Carter is the team’s leader in rebounds, averaging 8.1 boards per game. As a team, the Eagles score 62.8 points per game and collect 40.5 rebounds per contest.

Virginia moved to 5-6 after beating Florida Gulf Coast, 85-56, last time out. Three-point shooting helped lift the Cavaliers over the Eagles as they hit nine consecutive attempts in the first half. Prior to that win, Virginia had gone 1-5 over its last six games after starting the season 3-1. The Cavaliers have three players averaging double-figure points, led by Ataira Franklin at 12.9 points per game. Sarah Imovbioh leads the team in rebounds with 8.0 boards per game. As a team, Virginia averages 67.0 points and 39.0 rebounds per outing.

Kristy Curry is in her first season as head coach on the Alabama sidelines after spending seven seasons in the same position at Texas Tech (2006-13). Prior to her stint in Lubbock, she spent seven years as head coach of the Purdue Boilermakers (1999-2006). Curry’s teams have made nine NCAA Tournament appearances, including a trip to the championship game in 2001, in addition to winning two Big Ten regular season titles and compiling nine 20-win seasons. She holds an overall coaching record of 315-154.

At the helm of the Princeton women’s basketball team is seventh-year head coach Courtney Banghart, who has led the Tigers to four-consecutive Ivy League Championships. Banghart inherited a program that had never played in an NCAA tournament and has since taken Princeton to four after winning the league title. Banghart, the four-time Ivy League Coach of the Year, was an assistant at Dartmouth from 2003-07 before assuming the head role at Princeton.

Coppin State is under the direction of Derek Brown, who is in his 15th season with the Eagles. Brown, the winningest coach at Coppin State, has had five 20-win seasons and made three NCAA Tournament appearances as head coach of the Eagles. He holds an overall record of 234-192.

Virginia is led by third-year head coach Joanne Boyle, who holds a career record of 275-135 and a 46-31 mark since taking over the program in 2011. She previously spent six seasons at California (2005-11) where she reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2009. Prior to that, Boyle began her head coaching career at Richmond, where she served for three seasons (2002-05).

Senior point guard Daisha Simmons earned Southeastern Conference Player of the Week honors on Dec. 23, after having the top statistical performance for an Alabama player since 1995 with a triple-double of 37 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. It was also the first triple-double in the SEC since 2010 and the first, and only, in the nation this season. Her point, rebound and assist totals against the Trojans were all career highs, while the 37 points were the most scored by a junior in program history and the second-highest point total in a single game in the UA record books, one point shy of the record set by Amy Lannom in 1992. Simmons' 14 made free throws also tied for the second-most in a single game in the Tide records. Simmons finished the week averaging 25.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.5 assists in two games. She is the only SEC player to be ranked in the league in points, rebounds, assists and steals.

After coming close on a few occasions, freshman forward Ashley Williams finally recorded her first double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds against Troy. Both numbers were also career highs for Williams.

Senior guard Shafontaye Myers leads the Southeastern Conference and is 16th in the nation in three-point field goals made per game, averaging 3.27 threes a contest. For her career, Myers is seventh in the Alabama career record books with 163.