With the Southern Conference Tournament and NCAA Tournament coming sooner rather than later, the Bulldogs will look to finish out their remaining schedule on a high note. The Bulldogs currently sit at 12-13 overall (7-4 SoCon) and have won four straight games against Chattanooga, ETSU, UNCG and Western Carolina.
Throughout the season, the star for the Bulldogs has, unsurprisingly, been guard Andrea Cournoyer.
She is averaging around 18 points per game and three assists per game. Cournoyer also leads the team in steals with about three per game, proving to be an impact force on both the offensive and defensive ends.
In addition, Sussy Ngulefac and Annie Ramil have proven to be beasts on the boards, as Ramil averages around eight a game and Ngulefac averages around five a game. Ngulefac and Ramil have been exceptional in limiting second-chance points for opponents with their glass-clearing ability.
In Samford’s two big wins against Chattanooga and ETSU, it was a tale of two teams. Against Chattanooga, Cournoyer’s performance was the x-factor, as she dropped 28 points on 11-15 shooting with seven rebounds and four steals. Ngulefac also added 13 points of her own. The Bulldogs came away with a 77-67 victory.
Against ETSU, however, Samford’s victory was a total team effort, with four different players scoring in double figures. Ramil had 12 points and a staggering 17 rebounds. Natalie Armstrong and Audra Leipold added 10 points, and the Bulldogs beat the Buccaneers 73-61.
Speaking of Leipold, the redshirt sophomore’s return to the court has already been a noticeable boost for the Bulldogs’ offense. In just her third game back from a leg injury that sidelined her for over two months, she scored 10 points and three assists against ETSU.
One of those assists, a behind-the-back pass to Armstrong, made the Sportscenter Top 10 segment on ESPN the following day.
Samford currently has the fourth seed in the conference and still has time to prove themselves as contenders for the SoCon championship. Indeed, anything can happen in March, and if Samford intends to make a run, it will fall on the entire team’s collective effort.
Perhaps the best feature of this season’s team is the deadly dual attack from both the guards and forwards. If an opposing defense tries to lock down the paint, Cournoyer can easily stretch the defense with her 3-point shooting.
The glaring issue for the Bulldogs heading into March is the turnover bug. The Bulldogs currently rank last in the SoCon for turnover margin (-3.76). Though their defense has significantly improved over the past two weeks, Samford still sits in the middle of the pack in most defensive categories. If Samford can clean up turnovers and continue to improve on defense, this team could be even more dangerous in March.
However, with the SoCon’s leading scorer in Cournoyer and the number two overall scoring offense in the conference, coach Carley Kuhns will have a much bigger cushion for her defense to rely on than most teams would.
Overall, Samford has shown some promise down the stretch, with four straight wins against tough conference opponents and great play from Cournoyer and forwards Ngulefac, Armstrong and Ramil. If Samford’s defense can keep up with their potent offense, they will be tough to beat in March.
Samford’s next game is against Furman on Thursday, Feb. 17 at the Pete Hanna Center in Birmingham, Alabama.