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Women’s Basketball seeks redemption in 2011 season Highlanders looking to bounce back after early exit from last year’s Big South Tournament, striving to find balance in an ultracompetitive Big South conference is 2011-2012. HALEY SHOTWELL hshotwell@radford.edu

CHRISTIAN STEPHENS | The Tartan

Head Coach Tajama Abraham Ngongba sets a theme every year for the Radford Women’s Basketball Team. This season, the theme is “Invictus,” meaning “invincible.” Coach Ngongba made sure her players fully understood what that word means by getting them to read the poem “Invictus,” by William Ernest Henley and writing a paper on the theme. “I think they have really bought into it just with their entire demeanor,” Ngongba said. “And you see that desire to be invictus and I told them it’s not just a word, you have to really buy into it.” The Highlanders will keep that word in

the back of their head as they attempt to make a run late in to the post season. Coming off of a 14-16 record in the 201011 season, RU will look to avenge a disappointing first round loss to the No. 7 seed Winthrop in the Big South Tournament. Coach Ngongba enters her fourth season at the helm of the team and hopes to grab her first Big South Conference title this year. She also hopes to be better than last year and constantly improve. When thinking back about the first round loss last year, Ngongba said, “It adds fuel for us, it is definitely a moment we won’t forget. We use it as a teaching point too because if we feel they are not going as hard as

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Returning stars look to lead 2012 team to conference tournament BRENNEN WOODRUFF bwoodruff@radford.edu

AJ NEUHARTH-KEUSCH aneuharthkeus@radford.edu The Radford University Women’s Basketball team is looking to build off a 14-16 record last season.

The Highlanders were impressive against other Big South teams with an 11-5 record and almost equally as impressive at home with an 8-5 record. The disappointments came on the road, where they were only 6-10. The season was cut short and they were eliminated in the first round of the Big South Tournament by a score of 38-59 in a contest against Winthrop University. The Highs were upset, but determined to improve.

“We’ve been working hard, practicing every day, working in the weight room, getting strong, and just preparing ourselves for the season,” said Junior guard Da’Naria Erwin Spencer when asked about their offseason strategies. Spencer looks to continue her success from last year. She was named first on the team in the Big South and led RU in points (13.8), assists (3.1), steals (2.3) and free throw per-

centage (72 percent). When asked about the relationship with the team, Spencer said, “When we hang out, there’s always laughs and giggles and it’s just a lot of fun.” Junior guard Ashley Buckhannon commented on the team’s camaraderie, saying that, “Our relationship is pretty strong. We can depend on each other. Unlike most

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Photos by CHRISTIAN STEPHENS | The Tartan

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“There are going to moment on the court when it is tough, but you have to go back to your foundation.”

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- Tajama Nogonba | Head Coach

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“Our relationship is pretty strong. We can depend on each other. Unlike most teams if we needed eachother we could always count on our teammates to be there.”

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D. Erwin Spencer

- Ashley Buckhannon | Guard #15

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K. McIvor #5

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T. Cannon

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A. Avery

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Women's Basketball Feature