2004-05 Season Article Archive – January
New Year starts off right with a win
Carrollton, Ga. – January 2, 2005 – It’s a new year and the Braves have started things off right with a win over 70-65 home win over Columbus State to move to 8-4 on the season heading into conference play this weekend.
The game was a see-saw battle that saw 14 lead changes and 16 three-pointers combined between the teams, but it was the Braves who hit shots from beyond the arc in key situations.
“I don’t think that we played all that great, but we hit big shots when we needed to,” said head coach Craig Roden. “I was really happy with the way we didn’t get down early.”
The Lady Cougars opened up up the largest lead of the game late in the first half, taking an eight-point lead with 10:05 left in the half. But the Braves mounted a comeback, outscoring Columbus 16-8 to head into the break tied at 26.
The second half was much closer, as neither team could take more than a five-point lead at any point throughout the majority of the half.
With 1:14 to go in the contest and the game tied at 62, one of those big shots happened. Natasha Liggins penetrated into the lane and dished out to a wide-open Nikki Blakely, who promptly buried a three-pointer to give the Braves a 65-62 lead.
The Lady Cougars missed a trey to try and tie the game and Milan Cary was fouled on the rebound. She hit one of her two free throws, making the game a two-possession affair.
But Columbus wasn’t done yet, as Lucia Heston hit a three-pointer with 37 seconds left to cut West Georgia’s lead to one. Liggins and Tai Ellis each hit a pair of free throws in the final minute to seal the deal.
Ellis led the Braves on the afternoon with 16 points, followed by a 14 point, nine rebound output from Blakely. Cary added 13 off the bench.
West Georgia is now 8-4 on the year with its first conference game Saturday night in Pensacola against West Florida.
Tough loss in conference opener
Pensacola, Fla. – January 8, 2005 – For 38 minutes Saturday afternoon, the West Georgia Braves outplayed the West Florida Argonauts. But games are 40 minutes long and an offensive flurry in the waning minutes of the game from the Argos handed UWG a connference-opening 73-68 loss.
The Braves led by double-digits with eight minutes to play in the ballgame, but when reigning Gulf South Conference East Division Player of the Year Erin Vierling hit a three-pointer to put the Argonauts up four with under a minute to play, things became very bleak for the Braves.
West Georgia hit 43 percent of its shots on the afternoon, but was cold in the final minutes, hitting a scoring drought as time ran down.
Tai Ellis was the only Brave in double-figures in the game, scoring 17 points to lead the Braves. On the UWF side, super-stars Vierling and Michelle Gibson had 27 and 23, respectively.
West Georgia is now 8-5 on the season and 0-1 in conference action. The Braves head from Pensacola to Valdosta for a Monday night contest with the Lady Blazers. Game time is at 5:50 p.m. and can be heard at www.uwgbraves.com.
Braves drop second straight
Valdosta, Ga. – January 10, 2005 – For the second time in three nights, the West Georgia Braves lost a heartbreaking conference road game, falling on Monday night to Valdosta State 55-51 at the Complex in Valdosta.
The Braves were outrebounded by a 30-19 margin, including 12-2 on the offensive boards. The Lady Blazers used a sizeable advantage on the inside to pound West Georgia for 24 points in the paint.
The first half of the contest was a battle of runs, with West Georgia kicking things off with an 8-0 run to start the game on the back of Tai Ellis. The junior two from beyond the arc in the first two minutes of the game.
But the Lady Blazers protected their home court with strong defense and a 5-of-8 shooting performance from three-point range in the opening period. The Braves shot 53 percent compared to VSU’s 33, but West Georgia’s 12 turnovers were the difference as the Lady Blazers led 25-24 at the half.
Ellis paced the Braves in the first 20 minutes with 12 points, most of those coming with a defender in her face.
UWG started fast right out of the break, scoring the half’s first six buckets to build a 30-25 lead in the first three minutes of the half.
But back came Valdosta, this time with Candice Ferrell leading the charge with nine second half points.
West Georgia had a chance in the final minutes, but the strong VSU defense kicked up the intensity and shut down the Braves’ attack.
For the second straight contest, Ellis was the bulk of the offense for the Braves, scoring 25 on this night.
UWG falls to 8-6 on the year and 0-2 in conference play while the Lady Blazers move to 12-2 and 2-0 in conference action. The Braves play Montevallo Saturday night at 5:30 p.m.
UWG goes cold in loss to Montevallo
Carrollton, Ga. – January 15, 2005 – Every basketball team looks to set records on any given night, but the West Georgia Braves set a record here tonight that no team ever wants to achieve, scoring the fewest points in a single game with a 42-29 loss to the Montevallo Falcons.
The Braves played well defensively in the first half, holding the Falcons to single-digits in the first 10 minutes of the first half. But unfortunately for West Georgia, Montevallo was also in a defensive mindset on the evening, holding the Braves to just 17 points in the entire half. Going into the locker room, the Falcons led 20-17.
But in the second half, West Georgia’s shooting went from cold to frigid, as UM closed the final 15 minutes of the contest with a 17-4 run to remain undefeated in conference play.
Milan Cary was the only Brave in double figures on the game, hitting for 14 points. For the Falcons, Malissa Harris equaled Cary’s total with 14 of her own.
West Georgia is now 8-7 on the year
West Georgia snaps losing streak
Carrollton, Ga. January 17, 2004 – The losing streak is officially over. Monday night, the West Georgia Braves overcame the woes of the previous three contests with a satisfying 76-66 win over the West Alabama Tigers.
In one of the biggest offensive displays of the season thus far, the Braves had four players in double figures, led by Tai Ellis 21.
In the first half, it was imperative for West Georgia to come out hot and hot they were, jumping out to a 12-2 run in the first five minutes of the contest. Ellis hit two three-pointers to power that stretch.
But this half was one of runs as the Tigers took their turn with a 12-4 run over the next four minutes to pull to within two at 16-14.
After a timeout, the Braves pulled themselves together and pushed th lead out to 10 at 24-14 with just over nine minutes left in the period before West Alabama put on a full-court press.
West Georgia had problems dealing with the press, as the Tigers used it to pull even at 34 with 1:24 left before halftime. But the Braves would not allow the momentum to be in the UWA locker room, ending the half with a pair of buckets for a 39-34 lead heading into the break.
In the second half, it was a different story, as West Georgia led from wire-to-wire, matching the Tigers shot-for-shot en route to its first conference win of the season.
In addition to Ellis 21, Milan Cary poured in 20, followed by 12 from Natasha Liggins and 10 from senior Nikki Blakely. As a team, West Georgia shot 49 percent from the field while holding UWA to just 36 percent,
The Braves move to 9-7 on the year and 1-3 in conference action. The Tigers are also 9-7 on the season and 2-2 in the GSC East. Next up for West Georgia is another conference matchup this weekend with Alabama-Huntsville.
Cary earns GSC weekly honors
Carrollton, Ga. – January 19, 2005 – It been a rough couple of weeks for the West Georgia Braves, losing three of their first four conference games. But things turned around Monday for the Braves with a win over West Alabama, followed by Wednesday’s announcement of Milan Cary as the Gulf South Conference East Division Player of the Week.
The senior averaged 17 points per game in leading West Georgia to a 1-1 record last week, including the Braves’ first conference win of the season. In West Georgia’s win over West Alabama Monday night, Cary had 20 points on a 9-of-15 shoting effort.
The award is the third Player of the Week honor for a West Georgia Player this season. The Braves’ backcourt has been a regular sight as the East Division POW, as point guard Natasha Liggins and wing Tai Ellis collected honors earlier this year.
The dynamic trifecta leads West Georgia against Alabama-Huntsville Saturday evening at 5:30 p.m.
Womens Athletic Spotlight Tai Ellis
Carrollton, Ga. – January 14, 2005 – Missing a full season due to injury in sports usually has negative affects on a players return. The player is not as fresh and conditioned as other players, and not to mention cold to the playing field.
Tai Ellis, a junior guard for the West Georgia Braves, was medically red shirted last season. Prior to that season Ellis was the lone Brave to be named All-Gulf South Conference. However, Ellis is scoring more points than ever and you could not convince a fan that Ellis was ever injured with the way she is playing.
When you are injured you have two choices, Ellis explained, either sit around and take it easy or get off your butt and practice, practice, practice.
Ellis has led the team in scoring in nine of fourteen games this season, with a career high 38 against Clayton St. on December 17th. Ellis is the fourth leading scoring in the conference with 17.7 points per game, and is third in free throw percentage (.859). With these kind of numbers Ellis provides quite a problem for opponents, and earns her player of the week awards in the conference twice, including this past week.
Ellis joins Milan Cary to form a backcourt that opponents fear. Milan and I work well together, Ellis shared, but Natasha, Nikki, and the rest of the girls are what make this team good.
The reason my numbers look so good, Ellis said, is because my teammates cause problems for teams that they view as a bigger threat than me, and when I become a bigger threat then players like Natasha Liggins, Nikki Blakely, Erica McCoy, etc. their numbers will rise.
The Braves are currently 8-6 and 0-2 in the conference. The schedule is by no way an easy one, but playing teams better than you is what makes a team stronger.
We have lost two close games lately, Ellis shared, and it comes down we just dont finish. We get comfortable and really slack on the boards.
The Braves are last in the conference in offensive rebounds per game (32) and 12th in defensive rebounds per game (40). Rebound, especially on the offensive side, is huge to a win, Ellis explained, Getting those second chance points would be a big difference in the game.
Ellis and the rest of the Braves will go for their first conference win this Saturday against Montevallo in the HPE Building at 5:30.
Late cold spell dooms Braves against Lady Chargers
Carrollton, Ga. – January 22, 2005 – – Records mean very little in NCAA basketball, because on any given night, a team can jump up and bite. The Alabama-Huntsville Chargers did that Saturday evening, using an 11-4 run midway through the second half to upend the West Georgia Braves 69-60.
The Braves led for the majority of the contest, but a 6:08 cold spell at the midpoint of the second half gave the Lady Chargers a seven-point lead that spelled doom for West Georgia on the night.
The two squads came out tentatively, exchanging leads for the first 13 minutes of the game. But a jumper from Tai Ellis followed by one from Milan Cary broke things open as the Braves built a 25-19 lead at the 4:38 point. UWG and the Lady Chargers continued to exchange baskets before Cary scored the final five points of the half to give the Braves a 31-27 lead at the break.
The see-saw continued in the second half, as the two teams exchanged leads seven times in the period. But when Cary hit a jumper with 12:46 left, West Georgia went cold and UAH heated up. The Lady Chargers outscored the Braves 11-4 over the next 6:08 and never looked back.
The Braves pulled to within five at the 5:32 mark, but a jumper from Lindsey Scholsser and a layup by Kellye Barr put the game out of reach.
Cary paced the Braves with 24 points and seven rebounds followed by Ellis with 18 points and five boards. As a team, West Georgia outrebounded the Lady Chargers 40-34.
Braves break out against UNA
Carrollton, Ga. – January 24, 2005 – The disappointment of Saturday’s loss disappeared in the second half of Monday’s game as the West Georgia’s offensive explosion in the second half produced the second conference win of the season, 80-56 over the North Alabama Lions.
Tai Ellis had a huge night, scoring 30 to lead the Braves. It was her career best in a conference contest.
But things didn’t start out rosy, as the Braves played from behind for the majority of the first half. North Alabama took full advantage of UWG’s happy hands, hitting 13-of-16 free-throws while West Georgia managed to hit just 2-of-5.
In the second half, the Braves’ offense took off, hitting for 52 points in the period. Ellis had 26 in the half to lead the effort.
UNA took the lead at the 17:27 point of the out of the locker room, a slim 35-34 advantage. The Braves reeled off 11 straight points over the next four minutes and the rout was on. When the dust finally cleared, West Georgia had its second conference win and 10th on the season.
Milan Cary added 16 to the effort while Natasha Liggins poured in 15. As a team, West Georgia shot 65 percent in the second half and 53 percent for the game.
The Braves hit the road for the last game of the first half of the conference season, facing Lincoln Memorial Saturday night.
Ellis earns Weekly conference honors
Carrollton, Ga. – Janaury 26, 2005 – For the second straight weekend, the West Georgia Braves were 1-1 in conference action. And for the second straight week, the Gulf South Conference honored a UWG guard with the distinction of East Division Player of the Week.
Last week, it was Milan Cary with the award. This week, Tai Ellis earned GSC East Player of the Week with her performance against Alabama-Huntsville and North Alabama. It is her second award of the season.
The junior from Brunswick, Ga. averaged 24 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in the two contests. She shot 54.2 percent on the weekend from the field and 54.5 percent from three-point distance.
Ellis was especially effective against North Alabama Monday night, scoring 24 points in the second half. It was her shooting that led the Braves to 52 second half points en route to a 80-56 shellacking of the Lions.
Ellis and the Braves head to Harrogate, Tenn. Saturday night for a matchup with Lincoln Memorial. Tip-off is at 6:00 p.m. and the game can be heard at www.uwgbraves.com.
Braves lose fifth conference contest
Harrogate, Tenn. January 29, 2005 – The Lincoln-Memorial curse for West Georgia continued Saturday night as the Braves fell to the Lady Railsplitters 70-61 to drop to 10-9 on the season and 2-5 in Gulf South Conference action.
The game opened up uncharacteristic of West Georgia games at Lincoln Memorial, with the Braves jumping out to a 8-2 lead in the first three minutes of the contest. Tai Ellis set the tone on the opening possession, burying a three-pointer with LMU forward Mareme Konate directly in her face.
But the Lady Railsplitters came back and took the lead at 15-14 on a layup by Konate. The game was back-and-forth for the remainder of the period, and Lincoln center Jamie Jackson hit two free-throws with 20 seconds left in the half to give LMU a 30-33 halftime advantage.
As a team, the Braves needed to control Lincoln on the boards, and kept the Lady Railsplitters at bay with LMU holding a 16-14 lead in rebounding. Milan Cary was halfway to a double-double in the first half, leading West Georgia with nine points and five rebounds.
First Half Score:
West Georgia 30
Lincoln Memorial 33
But in the second half, the Lady Railsplitters used an 11-0 run in a span of three minutes to seal the Braves fate on the night. West Georgia made a run late in the second half to pull to within four at 61-57 with 2:14 left, but the Lincoln inside game was just too strong.
LMU took advantage of West Georgias lack of size on the inside and took UWG to the rack to keep the lead. The Lady Railsplitters outscored the Braves 18-8 on the inside in the second half.
Cary led the West Georgia effort with a 21-point effort, followed by Ellis with 13. Three Braves, Dovile Gulbinaite, Natasha Liggins and Erica McCoy netted seven points on the night.
West Georgia has a week off before starting the second half of the conference season at Montevallo next Saturday evening. bench, averaging 9.9 points and 1.11 blocks per game.
The Road to Carrollton Both squads are 10-8 on the season and are in the thick of the race for the conference tournament. Despite a three game losing streak to start the conference season, West Georgia is 2-1 in their last three games for a 2-4 conference record. Lincoln is in a four-way tie for third place in the GSC East. Saturdays contest is the last in the first half of the conference season.
Trivia of the Week: Since 1998, no womens team at West Georrgia has been known as the Lady Braves, at the suggestion of then-Braves softball coach Robbie Cameron.