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Women's basketball could rack up victories
By DAVID NORRIE
Published January 31, 2006
Trailing only first-place Rollins in the Sunshine State Conference standings, Tampa's women's basketball team enters February with a favorable schedule and the potential to meet the Tars mid month riding some momentum.
Entering Monday, none of the Spartans' next three opponents, Florida Southern, Lynn and Saint Leo, possessed a winning conference record.
Having played through the SSC schedule once, coach Tom Jessee said he believes his most important tasks before playing each team again is warning against overconfidence and getting his players peaking heading into March.
"We're 7-2 (SSC) and feel pretty good about that considering all the injuries," Jessee said. "We found a way to get through the first time, though the second go-around is always a tougher chore.
"Teams make adjustments, and with young kids like we have, there could be a letdown. So I'm telling them just because we've beaten somebody, don't take them lightly."
To Tampa's benefit, the team looks to be healthier than it has been all season.
Jessee hopes nagging injuries such as the one to guard Shay Mackey are behind it. The sophomore guard, who leads the team in 3-point percentage (38 percent) and is second in assists with 2.4 per game, missed four games in January with a leg injury. Having her back in the starting lineup allows the Spartans to be more versatile.
"She's a multidimensional player who is good off the dribble, able to post up and can shoot the (3-pointer)," Jessee said. "Her consistency is what I was most concerned with, and lately, that has been very impressive."
Mackey has elevated her game against conference opponents, raising her scoring average from 7.8 points per game (nonconference) to 10.5. She has scored in double figures in five of Tampa's eight conference games.
The Spartans face what could be a drained Florida Southern team at home Wednesday. The Moccasins went to five overtimes Saturday in Melbourne, losing to Florida Tech 82-81 in just the second game in NCAA women's basketball history to go that deep.
Tampa has lost three straight at home to Florida Southern.
MEN'S BASKETBALL: Tampa posted victories against Saint Leo and Barry last week to climb above .500 in the SSC at 5-3 (14-5 overall).
Wednesday, the Spartans will attempt to do something they haven't done since the 2000-01 season, sweep the regular-season series against longtime rival Florida Southern.
Heading into this season, Tampa had dropped six of seven to the Moccasins but turned their fortunes around, winning by 11 in Lakeland on Jan. 4.
Guard Mark Borders , who scored a game-high 23 points that game, goes into this meeting as hot as he has been all season.
He scored 21 against Saint Leo on Wednesday and followed that with a season-high 32 points on Saturday against Barry. That was along with his 10 assists and career-high six steals. He was 14-of-16 from the free-throw line.
Monday, Borders was named the SSC player of the week.
BASEBALL: The Spartans opens the season with a three-game series at No.23 Georgia College and State University this weekend.
The series in Milledgeville, Ga., begins Friday with a 2 p.m. doubleheader and concludes at 1 p.m. Saturday. The matchup features the Spartans, coming off a 40-18 season, and the Bobcats, who were 33-20 last season.