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Women's Basketball Opens Sun Belt Championship Against No. 5 Seed ULM on Friday

Kate Kirsch

No. 4 Old Dominion (21-8, 12-6 Sun Belt) vs. No. 5 ULM (19-12, 10-8 Sun Belt)
Game Info – Friday, March 8 at 3 p.m. EST
Location – Pensacola Bay Center (Pensacola, Fla.)
Watch – ESPN+
Listen – Priority Auto Sports Radio 94.1
Live Stats – Click Here
Tickets – Click Here
Social Media – Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

PENSACOLA, Fla. – Old Dominion women's basketball begins its Sun Belt Championship run on Friday when the fourth-seeded Monarchs meet No. 5 seed ULM in a 3 p.m. EST quarterfinal round game at the Pensacola Bay Center.

Fans can watch the game on ESPN+ with Noah Frary and Kelley Deyo on the call or tune into Priority Auto Sports Radio to hear Ted Alexander and Shonda Deberry. Live stats will also be available.

The Series
ULM was the one Sun Belt team ODU did not see during the regular season. Friday's game will mark just the third meeting between to the two programs and will be a rematch of the 1985 NCAA National Semifinals when ULM was known as Northeast Louisiana University. The Lady Monarchs won that game 57-47 and went on to defeat Georgia 70-65 to capture their third national title.

ODU hosted ULM on Jan. 5 last season, defeating the Warhawks 63-49 at Chartway Arena. Makayla Dickens made 4-of-7 shots from distance and led the Monarchs with 14 points and Kaye Clark also finished in double figures with 11 points, adding three steals and two blocks to her totals.

About ODU
The Monarchs (21-8, 12-6 Sun Belt) capped off the regular season with a 70-58 setback to James Madison last Friday. Worth noting is that three times this season when ODU has dropped a Sun Belt game, the team has put together a 3-0 run in league play. If you include ODU's win at Kent State, the Monarchs have put together four 3-0 runs following a Sun Belt loss. ODU will look to continue that trend in Pensacola.

The 2024 Sun Belt Women's Basketball Awards and All-Conference Teams were announced on Monday. Clark was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year after repeating as the conference leader in steals (87) and steals per game (3.0). Additionally, teammate En'Dya Buford was named to the All-Sun Belt Third Team. The Memphis, Tennessee native is the team's leading scorer with 12.4 points per game and she finished second in the league behind Clark with 69 steals and 2.38 steals per game.

Following Buford in scoring is Jordan McLaughlin with 10.0 ppg and Brenda Fontana with 9.1 ppg. Buford and Fontana have combined to make 78 three-pointers and Simone Cunningham (6.9 ppg) is the top rebounder with 205 boards (7.1 rpg). Cunningham also owns the team high in blocks with 21, Lanetta Williams (3.1 ppg) has 19 blocks, and Fontana is up to 15. Clark ranks 13th in country in both steals and steals per game.

The Monarchs are scoring 64.3 ppg and are second in the Sun Belt in scoring defense at 60.0 points allowed per contest. ODU is shooting a combined .371 from the field, .279 from long range, and .649 at the free-throw line. Through games played on March 6, the team also ranks 15th in the nation in turnovers forced per game (20.86), 16th in offense rebounds per game (15.0), 24th in three-point percentage defense (.271), and 27th in turnover margin (4.59) and steals per game (10.7).

About ULM
The Warhawks (19-12, 10-8) finished the regular season with a 76-73 loss at Texas State and advanced in the conference championship with a 78-57 second round victory over No. 12 seed Georgia Southern on Wednesday. Jakayla Johnson scored 25 points to pace ULM while Daisha Bradford recorded a triple-double of 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. The program is making its first appearance in the Sun Belt Quarterfinals since 2013.

A senior guard from Mobile, Alabama, Bradford transferred to ULM from Clemson and was named the Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year after helping the Warhawks to their most wins in a single season (18) since their 2007-08 campaign. She started all 30 games and averaged 19.4 ppg, finishing fourth in the conference, and added All-Conference Second Team honors. Teammate Katlyn Manuel was voted Sixth Woman of the Year after contributing 10.2 points and 5.7 rebounds off the bench each outing. She led the team with 30 blocks and ranked fifth in the league with 1.0 block per game. Johnson landed on the All-Sun Belt Third Team and was the team's second leading scorer with 15.2 ppg and best free-throw shooter with a .836 clip.

ULM has four players averaging double-digit scoring: Bradford leads the way at 19.1 ppg, Johnson is second at 15.3, Manuel is next with 10.3 and Sania Wells averages 10.1 ppg. Bradford is the top threat from three-point range with 71 makes, followed by Lauren Gross (6.8 ppg) with 57 threes and Johnson with 47. Bradford also does most of the work on the glass with 236 boards (7.6 rpg) and has dished out 140 assists.

The Warhawks come into Friday's contest averaging 73.3 ppg and allow 66.9 ppg. ULM shoots .408 from the field, including .320 from the perimeter, and .753 at the charity stripe. The team leads the Sun Belt in assist-to-turnover margin (1.06) and turnovers per game (13.5) and ranks second in the league in free-throw percentage, scoring margin (6.4), and three-pointers per game (7.6).

Sun Belt Championship Central
For more information, to include the tournament schedule, ticketing information and to view the bracket, fans can visit the Sun Belt Championship website here.

NET Rankings
Sun Belt Conference in the NCAA NET Rankings – as of March 6

Marshall                     77
Troy                            108
James Madison        111
Old Dominion           123
Southern Miss.         132
ULM                            135
App State                  164
Louisiana                   173
Arkansas State         174
Georgia State           204
Texas State               211
Georgia Southern    218
Coastal Carolina       226
South Alabama         308

Up Next
The winner of Friday's game will advance to the Sun Belt Semifinals and will play the winner of a Quarterfinal game between regular-season champion Marshall and the No. 9 seed, App State.