MONTGOMERY, Ala. ---- The Auburn Montgomery basketball teams kick off the western division portion of their Southern States Athletic Conference schedule with a Saturday doubleheader against local rivals Faulkner.
Warhawk fans are encouraged to wear black in support of AUM on Saturday. General admission tickets for the game cost only $5, while tickets for non-AUM students are just $3. As always, AUM students and faculty receive free admission to the games. Previews of the two contests are listed below.
AUM Women's Basketball Hosts No. 22 Faulkner
For the first time in the rivalry, the AUM and Faulkner's women's basketball teams will face each other with both teams ranked in the NAIA Top 25 on Saturday.
The Warhawks (13-3, 6-0 SSAC) are 18th nationally, and they are the only remaining SSAC team undefeated in conference play. AUM defeated Brenau 63-60 last Saturday to keep that streak alive.
Junior Katie Williams had a career-high 24 points, including six 3-pointers, against the Tigers. Senior forward LaKenya Drayton, who was named the conference's Player of the Week on Monday, added 21 points and 12 rebounds, and averaged 17.7 points per game in AUM's three games last week.
No. 22 Faulkner (14-4, 4-2) is coming off a 65-52 setback to Emmanuel. The Lady Eagles are ranked first in the NAIA in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to only 31.1 percent shooting, and they also lead the nation in total assists (318).
The Warhawks have been stout defensively as well, limiting opponents to 36.9 percent shooting and 55.3 points per game. In last season's two meetings, neither school shot better than 36.7 percent in either contest.
In the last game between the teams, the Lady Eagles came away with a 45-41 home victory. Faulkner forward Brittney Carter (16 points, 16 rebounds) and Drayton (14 points, 15 rebounds) both had big games, and will likely play an important role in Saturday's matchup as well.
"I think the big factor when you go into these types of games is not to get too overly hyped," AUM head coach Dan Davis said. "It's the first of many conference games in the second half of the year. They're all important. We have a mature group of girls. They just need to keep their emotions in check and play their game on both ends of the floor."
Saturday's game begins at 2 p.m. in the AUM Gymnasium.
Warhawks Set to Host Faulkner in Key SSAC Contest
The men's matchup immediately follows the women's game at 4 p.m.
AUM enters the game with a 5-7 mark on the season, including a 4-2 record in conference games. The Eagles, currently ranked 23rd in the NAIA Coaches' Poll, sport a 14-3 overall record and a 5-1 record in league play. The Warhawks will be looking to snap a five-game skid to its crosstown foe, as Faulkner has swept the season series each of the last two seasons.
In its last outing, AUM defeated the preseason No. 6-ranked Southern Poly 83-74 behind a career-high 26 points from Justin Zachary. The sophomore scored 23 of those points in the second half, as the Warhawks erased a 10-point deficit in the final 19 minutes.
For the season, AUM is led by the duo of junior Reshad Bickham and sophomore Quay Davis, who are averaging 11.7 and 10.0 points per game, respectively. The Warhawks currently have seven players averaging better than five points per contest.
On the glass, Bickham paces the team with an average of 4.3 rebounds per game. Senior Michael Acoff and junior Dominique Ellis follow closely behind, each averaging better than four rebounds per contest.
As a team, the Warhawks are averaging 66.6 points per game, while Eagles are scoring 68.5 points per contest. Faulkner leads the conference in scoring defense, allowing just less than 61 points per game. AUM is allowing its opponents 72.6 points per game.