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Titans face Wenatchee Valley at the Pierce Holiday Invite

Sophomores Megan Still and Emma Jones
Sophomores Megan Still and Emma Jones

The Titans are coming off their first road game at Lower Columbia, which was a loss. The rest of their non-conference schedule will be on the road. To begin their eight game road schedule, they will travel to Lakewood, WA and play in the Pierce Holiday Invitational against the Wenatchee Valley Knights.

Knight stats: The Knights are 4-1 with wins over two Southern Region opponents, Chemeketa and Clark. The Knights have relied on the 2nd best scoring defense in the NWAC, giving up only 51 points per game. They hold their opponents to 34.1 percent shooting and 22.3 percent from behind the arch, they rank 6th and 7th.

On the other side of the ball the Knights are more in the middle of the pack, ranking 12th in ppg at 71; 21st and 20th in made and attempted threes; all thanks to only 64.4 field goal attempts a game, 14th. The Knights average only 8.6 spg, but Kiara Steen averages 2.8 of them.

The Knights are led by Ashlynn Burgess who averages a team high 16.6 ppg and second best 5 rpg. The only other Knight in double-figures is Cariann Kunkel at 12.4 ppg. Kunkel also contributes 4.4 rpg and a steal.

The Knights are 2-0 at home and 2-1 in neutral site games. In the three neutral site games the Knights are shooting 6.6 percent lower than at home; average 6.7 ppg fewer; 3.8 more personal fouls and 5.7 fewer rebounds. These numbers are not bad considering most teams play better at home. The Knights should look to take advantage of their early season experience in netral site games.

Titan stats: After their loss the Titans are 4-1. They have beaten two Eastern Region opponent, the Knights region, in Treasure Valley and Blue Mountain. The Titans have not played a neutral site game this season. 

While the Knights are known for their defense and slower paced offense that is common in the East Region, the Titans come from the South where offense is queen. The Titans and Umpqua Riverhawks lead the NWAC in scoring offense and the South has a total of four representatives in the top 10, something that has been common since coach Greg Sheley and Umpqua coach Dave Stricklin entered the region. The Titans leading mark is 92.6; they are the only team averaging more than 90 ppg.

Despite the big offensive numbers, the Titans are one of the best defense's, allowing only 54 ppg, 3rd fewest in the NWAC. They are also the 3rd ranked field goal percentage defense giving up 31 percent shooting.

One area that has contributed to the defenses success has been the ability to force turnovers. The Titans are 2nd at 15.8 steals per game. The steals have helped to increase offensive opportunities and decrease the number of shots against; the Titans are 4th in field goal attempts and 1st in makes.

The Titans are undoubtedly led by Megan Still, even though there are four players averaging double-figures. Still is 2nd on the Titans averaging 18.4 ppg; she is the Titans leading rebounder, as a guard, at 6.4 rpg; she leads the Titans and is 6th in the NWAC at 3.4 spg and she is shooting 47.6 percent from three on 8.4 attempts per game.

Beyond Still, the Titans have gotten all-around contributions from Emma Jones and Kylie Guelsdorf. Jones only averages 4.4 ppg, but it's everything else she does; she averages 4.4 rpg, 5 apg and 7thmost steals at 3.2. A key for Jones is her defensive activity, in the Titans four wins she is averaging 4 spg, but in the lone loss, she had zero.

Guelsdorf, like Jones, is not in the game to be a score first player (that's Still's and soon to be mentioned Mya India Thomas' job). She does, though, average 12.4 ppg. Her biggest asset to the Titans is her passing and play making, she leads the Titans with 5.6 apg, 2nd in the NWAC. Guelsdorf's poor play against Lower Columbia was most evident in her single assist; she averages 6.8 apg in wins.

Finally we look at the Titans streakiest player, Mya Thomas India. She leads the Titans at 18.8 ppg, but shot 30.4 percent on 7-23 shooting in the loss. In her last two games she is 2-16 from three and 12-38 from the floor, 31.6 percent. I think her struggles and the Titans struggles could be mainly due to their 12 assists, the lowest of the season.

Key match-up points: The Titans can score and the Knights can defend. The Titans will look to push the pace and the Knights will look to limit possessions. Both teams have won the rebounding battle this year; the Titans are plus 7.8 and the Knights 11.

The Titans attempted their fewest free throws against an NWAC opponent this season against Lower Columbia, 17; as did the Knights against Walla Walla, 8; both games were losses.