The UNO women’s basketball team finished last season 0-29, but Friday’s game against Division II opponent West Alabama brings an early opportunity to earn a win.
“I think that getting that one win will give us motivation,” said junior guard Yasmin Taylor, a Grace King product who last season averaged 4.2 points and 6.1 rebounds. “We really just need one to give us confidence.”
The Tigers are led by first-year coach Rusty Cram, who came to the school from Belhaven. He also led Georgia Southern, Sam Crow Academy in Oak Grove and Cedar Creek High in Ruston.
While the Privateers play their home games at Lakefront Arena, Friday’s game will be in the Human Performance Center.
For UNO coach Keeshawn Davenport, the smaller gym has one feature the arena can’t offer: Since fans are closer to the court, they have more of a role in the game.
“It just brings us closer to the student body,” she said. “The atmosphere can help discourage our opponents.”
Since the HPC is across from the dorms, Taylor said she could see increased attendance.
The Privateers have one senior on their roster. They lost two starters and have six returning. One of those lost is Amber Clay, who had 12 games of at least five rebounds. She is now a graduate assistant with the squad.
Following a Nov. 22 game at Jacksonville State, UNO will host Mississippi State the following Saturday. For Davenport, getting those major schools back on the schedule is important since the Privateers were playing teams not as well known.
“It’s good to bring in a program like that,” she said. “That’s what the community and the fans were missing.”
Opening the season and being closer to a win is what Taylor is looking forward to.
“I’m beyond excited,” she said. “There are no words to describe it.”