Defense is the Key for Youthful Women’s Team

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Taking stock of her team entering its farewell season in the Southland Conference, Samantha Morrow sees just that. A team. “We don’t have any superstars,” says Morrow, who’s in her fifth season as women’s basketball coach. “But I feel like we’re going to be very deep.” The freshman class is led by 5-foot-11 guard Eboni Watkins (San Antonio Wagner), who suffered a torn ACL in the state high school tournament but hopes to return by Christmas. Krioni Bruce, a 5–9 forward from Mesquite, and 5–8 guard Chauntandra Williams from Lufkin are also in the fold. Briana Walker, a 6-foot forward, returns as a sophomore after a strong freshman campaign that featured several double-digit scoring and rebounding games. Juniors Sabreena DeNure and Kiara Parker and sophomores Michelle Rodriguez and Malaika Green will anchor the backcourt. Sophomore forward Desherra Nwanguma also has made strides. Despite a roster that doesn’t have a senior, Morrow likes the upside. “If everything goes as planned, Briana Walker should become a recognizable name, and I think potentially Kiara Parker is going to be very good for us.” Morrow is counting on DeNure and Green to run the point and drive the lane. But the team’s identity will be built on its ability to protect the basket. “They know that’s what I love,” Morrow says. “If they want to play, they are going to have to play some defense.” A challenging nonconference schedule includes games at Arkansas, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech. Visit utamavs​.com for the schedule. “We realize that we have to play more as a team this year,” she says. “We need to be more cohesive and not depend on one or two people. Everybody has to pull her part of the load.”

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