Guard play has been a strength for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Lady Lions — not only the quality at the position, but the depth that’s there has been beneficial.
Monday, UAPB took down Mississippi Valley 64-59 for a conference-opening win. Now, the Lady Lions will face their first Southwestern Athletic Conference road test when they travel to play Alabama A&M on Saturday.
UAPB Lady Lions Head Coach Nate Kilbert credited junior guard Kye Richardson as the game-changer Monday, and she only played six minutes. With their senior point guard Destiny Brewton slowed down by injury, others have had to step up and make things happen.
“The good thing about it is we’ve been getting good play from four or five of our guards,” Kilbert said. “Kye Richardson played six minutes but may have had the biggest impact of any of our guards. I tell them all the time it’s not the minutes you play it’s what you do in those minutes.”
Senior guard Faith Ohanta led all scorers with 19 points, and senior guard Malik Muhammad added 17 points.
“When Muhammad is making her outside shot, it opens up things for everybody else,” Kilbert said. “Ohanta shot it well, and Brewton is just getting back from injury coming off the bench.”
The Lady Lions were efficient, shooting 50 percent from the floor and 80 percent from the free throw line.
“It’s all about shot making for us,” Kilbert said. “It helps our confidence when we start off shooting like that. We just seem to play well when we get off to good starts, and that’s very important for us. If we shoot the ball well, we play like an experienced team.”
Defensively, Kilbert sees his ladies beginning to settle in, as they held Valley to 31 percent shooting from the field.
“I think we have found ourselves defensively,” Kilbert said. “We’ve been forcing our teammates to compete more in practice, and it makes us a better defensive team. We wanted to keep Valley in front of us, and I thought we did a good job of making them take contested jump shots. It’s all about team defense with us. Our post players are doing a good job of talking. One thing is we have to get more consistent instead of playing in spurts.”
Alabama A&M is coming off of two losses against Grambling and Jackson State to open up their conference slate. Kilbert was able to break down the film from both of those road losses for the Lady Bulldogs, and he expects a better effort at home from them on Saturday.
“I expect for them to play a lot better than they did against Grambling and Jackson State for sure,” Kilbert said. “They’re young, so they’ll play better at home. We’re looking for it to be a hostile environment. We have to be prepared for their runs and them playing a lot better than they did on the road. I watched some film from their last couple of games, and they were missing shots that they usually don’t miss.”
UAPB and Alabama A&M are set for a 4 p.m. tip on Saturday.