By ROD GIPSON
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 8, 2000
TAMPA -- The Spartans have continued to run through early-season competition, defeating Pace (N.Y.) and Miles (Ala.) this week at the Disney Classic in Kissimmee.
UT is 8-0 and ranked 11th nationally as it prepares to face Southwest Baptist (Mo.) at 7:30 p.m. today at the Bob Martinez Sports Center.
Helping UT has been coach Richard Schmidt's deep bench. The experienced starting five, Chuckie Powell, Jon Brown, Gecarri Freeman, Percy White and Sylvere Bryan have been solid. But the key might be reserves Peter Howard, Leonard Kelly, James Mereus, Earnest Williams, Jon Norris and Elijah Piazza.
White and Brown have led UT with a combined 24 points per game, and Mereus and Piazza have been equally effective. Mereus is averaging 12 points and five rebounds a game while Mereus has added 11 points a game.
The Spartans have had five different high scorers in their eight games. And in their 94-47 win over Puerto Rico-Cayey on Nov. 29, four players scored in double figures.
Mereus led UT with 19 points and nine rebounds while Kelly (17 points), Piazza (13) and Norris (11) had key contributions.
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: After beating Benedict College and Elizabeth City State at the Quality Inn Classic in Valdosta, Ga., UT is 7-1, marking coach Tom Mosca's best start since the 1980-81 season.
Freshman guard Yushonda Morse led the Spartans in the two victories, tallying 38 points in the two games.
Morse, who is averaging 17 points a game, along with 5 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals, has scored in double figures in all eight games for the Spartans.
SWIMMING: Seven Spartans qualified for the NCAA Division II meet at the region meet last weekend in Gainesville: Elysia Moreland, Shannon Treen Mandy Smith Les Bernys, Michael Chase, Steve Foster and Jim Kiner.
In advancing to the March 14-17 championships in Canton, Ohio, Bernys set a school record in the 100-yard backstroke.
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