A new year presented an immediate opportunity for Scott County's Malea Williams.
The 6-foot-4 freshman wing made her collegiate debut for the second-ranked University of Louisville women's basketball team on Saturday, playing the final five minutes of the Cardinals' 97-46 rout of city neighbor Bellarmine at KFC Yum! Center.
Williams missed her only field goal attempt, which was a 3-point try, and grabbed a defensive rebound.
Initially expecting 2020-21 to be a redshirt season, Williams' chance to see game action is a result of the NCAA's decision not to charge any spring, fall or winter athlete with a season of eligibility due to COVID-19's impact.
A late bloomer on the major college recruiting scene, Williams racked up more than 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds at Scott County despite not breaking into the starting lineup until her junior year.
She was named 2019-20 11th Region player of the year. Williams averaged a double-double and evolved into a prolific 3-point shooter for the Lady Cards, who went 28-7 and fell just shy of their third straight region championship.
Owens leads Tech comeback
In addition to reaching double-digit points for her second consecutive game, former SCHS star Maaliya Owens fueled Tennessee Tech's comeback from a 15-point deficit to a 72-67 victory at Eastern Illinois on Saturday.
Owens scored nine of her season-high 16 points in the fourth quarter, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:44 remaining.
“I am really proud of how Maaliya played today,” Tennessee Tech coach Kim Rosamond season. “Mo played with a lot of confidence and poise and just made big shots on the offensive end. She hit some big threes at crucial times, but I also thought her decision-making and defensive presence were really good down the stretch.”
Owens, who entered the game just before Tennessee Tech faced its largest gap of 43-28 midway through the third period, wound up 5-for-7 from the field — including 4-of-6 from 3-point range — to go with two assists, a steal and a rebound in 20 minutes.
Senior Mackenzie Coleman of Metcalfe County scored 17 points to lead the Golden Eagles, who improved to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the Ohio Valley Conference,
“We talk every day about the importance of responding versus reacting to adversity, and respond was exactly what our team did today down 15 in the third quarter,” Rosamond said.
Owens was coming off an 11-point, three-rebound performance Wednesday in Tennessee Tech's 79-70 loss at Southeast Missouri. She was 4-for-9 in that contest, 3-for-6 from deep, along with three rebounds.
The two games improved Owens' output to 5.8 points per game as she finds her form following a finger injury suffered in practice one day before Tennessee Tech's season-opener. Her seven 3-pointers are tied for third most on the team.
EKU men pick off Peay for big OVC road victory
Michael Moreno, Cooper Robb, coach A.W. Hamilton and the Eastern Kentucky men's basketball team continued to make their early mark in the Ohio Valley Conference, sandwiching a pair of gritty victories around the New Year's holiday.
The headliner was Saturday's 80-75 win over Austin Peay State at Dunn Center in Clarksville, Tennessee. EKU (9-2 overall, 3-1 OVC) picked up its fourth wire-to-wire win of the season at the expense of the Governors, who were the co-favorite to win the conference crown in this year's preseason coaches' poll.
Moreno scored eight points on 3-for-4 shooting but most importantly grabbed game-highs of 11 rebounds and four steals for the Colonels. His two 3-pointers were part of an 11-for-22 showing from beyond the arc that was by far EKU's hottest stretch of the winter.
True freshman Wendell Green Jr. scored a career-high 30 points in the victory. It is the second-most by any player in the OVC this season.
Austin Peay had won 17 of its past 18 home games and absorbed its first loss in those surroundings since February 2019.
Robb's nine points, three rebounds and two steals factored heavily into Wednesday's 69-61 home win over Eastern Illinois. Moreno added three points and four boards as EKU stayed unbeaten at McBrayer Arena this season.
Tre King combined 22 points with 12 rebounds to lead the Colonels, who are scheduled to host Jacksonville State (Thursday) and Tennessee Tech (Saturday) this week.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.