Dec. 9, 2011
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - With semester final exams topping the list of priorities for any student at Fayetteville State University, there seems to be little time to do much else between preparing for the tests that await.
Somehow, Lady Broncos guard Akysia Resper has found that extra time.
Not content to rest on her laurels as the CIAA's leading scorer at more than 19 points per game, Resper could be found for a few minutes here and a few minutes there on the floor of Felton J. Capel Arena this week, a basketball in hand, and a few jumpers in mind.
It's nothing new for the hard-working sophomore transfer from Concord, N.C., who has found herself starring for Fayetteville State just five games into the new basketball season.
"She's taken it on with the understanding that she still has to work," Lady Broncos coach Eva Patterson-Heath said of Resper's go-to player role. "We have exams this week, and yet she still found time to come into the gym and get some extra shots up. She's just not resting on what she's done in the past. She knows that to continue to get better, she has to keep working on her game."
So do the rest of the Lady Broncos. And while the finals pressure the "student" side of "student-athlete," the team itself faces a series of tests on the road this week, beginning with a road trip to regionally-ranked Barton (4-4) on Saturday. Tipoff is 2 p.m.
"Barton is a great team, a ranked team," Patterson-Heath said. "Janetta Robinson has been playing very well, as well as Nyesha Willie. They're an up-tempo team much like ourselves. They'll push the ball, play the passing lanes and will be looking to get a bunch of shots up. We have to be ready for that style of play."
Barton, which is coming off a tight loss to Chowan on the road earlier this week, is one of the most successful teams in the southeast. Ranked sixth in the most recent NCAA Division-II regional poll, the Lady Bulldogs return four starters to a team that finished 22-6 a year ago and won 18 consecutive games on their way to a championship 21-1 record in the Carolinas Conference. Barton, which is 119-25 in the last seven seasons in league play, is riding an 11-year streak of winning seasons.
But the Lady Broncos come into the game playing their best basketball of the young season. Still not at full strength, Fayetteville State (4-1) is off to its best start in four seasons. They are led by Resper, but are getting key contributions throughout the lineup. In a dominant 86-60 victory on the road at St. Andrews last week, forward Tierra Coleman (Jr., Cameron, N.C.) posted new career-highs with 18 points and 17 rebounds. Rookie 6-foot-4 center Bria Robinson (Fr., Belmont, N.C.) came off the bench to add a career-high 17 points to go with six rebounds.
Patterson-Heath has been pleased with the play of her team overall, getting lifts from steady point guard Je'Lena Robertson (So., Houston, Texas) and off the bench from Nia Trawick (So., Fayetteville, N.C.), who has scored at least seven points in two of her last three games.
"We want growth, and you just never know because on any given night, anything can happen," Patterson-Heath said. "So you have to be ready to go."
But Barton will be a tough opponent. Willie leads the team with 15.8 ppg to go with 4.3 rebounds a game while Robinson adds 9.9 ppg and Faith Hunter 11.6.
Fayetteville State will play twice in West Virginia next week, with a game at Alderson-Broaddus on Tuesday and at Salem International on Thursday. For more information about the game against Barton and others, including where to find live stats and updates, please visit www.FSUBroncos.com.