MACON, GA.-Campbell will begin play in the 2011 Atlantic Sun Tournament on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. against Belmont inside Mercer's University Center.
The Lady Camels (13-16, 12-8 A-Sun) earned the tournament's No. 3 seed after a strong second half of the season, going 12-6 since January 3. Campbell, who began the year 1-10 overall and 0-2 in conference play, won its last two games at home, defeating East Tennessee State, the tourney's No. 1 seed, first the first time in 12 tries 60-57. The Lady Camels then followed with a 98-70 performance on Senior Day, setting a new Gore Arena record for points in the process.
Leading the Camels on the season is Tonisha Baker, who was recently named First Team All- A-Sun after pacing CU in scoring at 11.9 points per game. The sophomore adds averages of 6.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.2 steals.
In those final two CU wins, Baker nearly registered a triple-double with 16 points, nine rebounds and nine assists against ETSU, then followed with 30 points (12-for-15 shooting) and six rebounds against Upstate. Averaging 23.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.5 steals per game, Baker was honored as the league's player of the week.
Baker is the first Lady Camel to earn first team all-conference honors since current CU assistant coach Marlena Murphy in 2007. She is the fourth since Campbell joined the A-Sun prior to the 1994-95 season to ever collect the accolade. Felicia Autry (1996, 97, 98) and April Cromartie (2000, 01, 02) also received first team honors three times over their careers. Baker is the first CU sophomore to receive first team accolades since Cromartie in 2000.
Also guiding the Lady Camels to a strong finish to the regular season was sophomore forward Jazmine Cooper, who led the conference in field goal percentage (.571) during A-Sun only games. Cooper comes into the tournament averaging 9.7points and 6.3 rebounds per game, and has registered three-straight double-doubles.
Lauren Yesh adds 9.3 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds per game for the Lady Camels. The senior recorded a memorable Senior Day on Saturday in her final home game in the Orange and Black, notching a career-high 20 points, while tying a personal-best with 11 rebounds. Yesh stands tied with Janice Washington (1996-01) for first on the Campbell all-time appearances list with 199 games played, and should break the mark in Thursday's quarterfinal.
Belmont (10-19, 7-13 A-Sun) comes into the tournament as winners of its last two, taking a 67-62 overtime win at Mercer and a 50-47 victory at Kennesaw State. Those two wins came after the Bruins dropped 10 of 11.
Junior forward Haley Nelson leads Belmont at 13.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, while freshman guard Molly Ernst adds 10.3 points and 1.9 rebounds. Shaunda Strayhorn also posts 8.2 points 4.5 assists an outing for the Bruins.
The Lady Camels and the Bruins split on the season with each team winning on the road. Campbell won in Nashville, Tenn. 60-57 behind a combined 28 from Baker and Cooper. In Buies Creek, Belmont registered a 54-45 win as the Lady Camels shot just 33 percent.
The Bruins hold the all-time series advantage 15-6. The teams have met just once in postseason play, that coming two seasons ago in Nashville. The No. 3 Bruins defeated No. 6 Campbell 67-52 behind a 12 point, 11 rebound double-double from Jessica Bobbitt.
Thursday's winner will move on to face the winner of No. 2 Stetson vs. No. 7 Kennesaw State on Friday at 6:30 p.m.