CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Since a chink was discovered in the Glenville State women's basketball armory, more teams have become part of the chase for the Mountain East Conference crown.
West Virginia State University and the University of Charleston will try to take advantage and narrow the gap between them and the Pioneers tonight when the Kanawha Valley rivals meet at 5:30 p.m. at Eddie King Gym.
The Pioneers (14-2, 9-1 MEC) - ranked 12th in the NCAA Division II Poll - saw an 11-game winning streak snapped in a 107-94 loss at West Liberty on Jan. 13.
Urbana (11-3, 8-2) sits in second place, one game behind the Pioneers while State (11-5, 7-3) is holding onto third place. The University of Charleston (10-4, 6-4) can move into a tie for third with a victory over State tonight.
The Yellow Jackets (11-5, 7-3 MEC) have won four of their last five games, including three road games - two of which were originally scheduled at Fleming Hall - that had to be moved because of the area's water emergency.
In fact, their only loss during that string of games was their fourth consecutive game away from home - a 76-67 defeat to Concord on Saturday.
The Yellow Jackets are seeking to move into rarified air this season. State has finished higher than seventh only once since the 1994-95 season. State also has won more than one conference tournament game only once during that time, getting eliminated in the first round nine times.
However, State has one four-game winning streak and a pair of three-game winning streaks and has not lost consecutive games this season.
Tonight's game holds significance for State coach David Smith, who is seeking his 600th career victory during a career that has spanned 30 years.
Since Smith arrived at State in 2012 following coaching stints at St. Joseph's, Shippensburg and Bellarmine, the Yellow Jackets are 24-19.
Leading the way for State is junior college transfer Lexy Carson, whose 22.4 points leads the MEC. Former Parkersburg South standout Asia Greenleaf averages 13.2 points for State, India Taste is at 12.6 and former Winfield star Jordan Brock is at 11.
The Golden Eagles have won three of their last five games with defeats to the top two teams in the MEC - Glenville State and Urbana.
Chyress Lockhart leads UC with 16.6 points per game and is sixth in the league in scoring. LeAnne Ross averages 14.9 points and Nichole Perry is at 11.8 per contest.
Coach Adam Collins is in his second season at UC after a four-year stint at the University of Texas at Permian Basin. The Golden Eagles finished 16-13 last season and are 26-17 since his arrival.