Once again the Olivet Nazarene University women’s basketball team looks to continue the up-tempo tradition that has been laid before them. This season, it is up to nine returners and eight newcomers to uphold Tigerball’s currently held 18 national NAIA records and continue the tradition of success.
Last season was yet another year marked by fast-paced basketball and record-breaking accomplishments. Most recently, the eight time national scoring leaders finished the season averaging 101.5 points per game and led the NAIA in offensive rebounding, turnovers forced, blocks and three-pointers (15.8 made per game). At one point during the season the Tigers were ranked as high as No. 6 in the NAIA Top 25 poll- their highest ranking in the program’s history. The Tigers earned the right to return to the NAIA National Championship tournament for their fourth appearance in the last six years. While outscoring Concordia (Mich.) in the second half of their national tournament appearance, the Tigers could not fight back from their first half deficit and fell short in their first round game The Tigers will look to build on last season’s success and use their early exit as motivation as they strive to mesh their core group of veterans with a talented group of newcomers.
The Tigers schedule this season is one of the toughest in the league. For the first time the 13-team Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) has divided its conference into a North and South Division, which means that each team will play those in its division twice and in the opposing division once. The Tigers will compete in the South Division of the CCAC conference for a total of 17 conference games this season. The CCAC proves to be as strong as ever with 5 of its 13 teams last season earning a birth to the National Tournament, more than any other conference in NAIA Division II. Posing the biggest challenges within the conference will be Roosevelt University (Ill.), Saint Xavier University (Ill.), Cardinal Stritch University (Wis.), and Purdue University Calumet (Ind.).
Other non-conference games include a season opening tournament on the road against nationally ranked Morningside University (Iowa) and Briarcliff University (Iowa), a challenging home opener against ranked University of St. Francis (Ind.) at homecoming, and a trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan to play a ranked Concordia University (Mich.) team, who knocked the Tigers out of the national tournament last year. The Tigers will also travel to West Palm Beach, Florida for games against Saint Thomas (Fla.) and Northwood (Fla.).
Here’s a look at the players, sorted by class, who make up this year’s team.
Liz Bart, 5-7, Cary Ill. Bart shot a team best 32 percent from beyond the arc and averaged 10.7 points per game last season.
Malory Adam, 6-0, Aurora, Ill. Adam totaled 56 blocks last season while also averaging 8.3 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game.
Miranda Geever, 5-8, Moline, Ill. Geever took the lead reigns at the point guard position last season averaging 11.1 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.0 steals and finished as a second team all-conference selection.
Taylor Haymes, 5-7, Wentzville, Mo. Haymes averaged 8.4 points, 1.7 steals, and 2.8 rebounds last season and should play a bigger role this season.
Dakota Hack, 5-10, Princeton, Ind. Hack made the transition to a low post position last season and now has the experience and confidence to contribute around the basket.
Tammy Ellis, 5-7, Barrington, Ill. After battling an injury that sidelined her last season, Ellis is looking much healthier and more confident on the court. She should be healthy enough to be a contributor at the shooting guard position.
Carlee Nicolas, 5-6, Momence, Ill. After coming off of an ACL injury and recent knee scope, Nicolas will be ready to make her debut this season.
Cortney Allenbaugh, 5-10, Morton, Ill. Allenbaugh transitions to the low post position this year. With her athleticism, finishing ability around the basket, and adaptability she should play a bigger role this season.
Holly Carter, 5-8, Pueblo, Colo. Carter enters this season as a sophomore transfer from Otero Junior College where she averaged 6.4 points and 3.1 assists last season. Carter will see time at both the point guard and wing positions.
Jayne Stuart, 5-8, Jackson, Mich. A sophomore transfer from Jackson Community College, Stuart is a veteran of system play who averaged 10.8 points last season. She will bring added experience to the point guard position.
Jessica Gerig, 5-9, Stillman Valley, Ill. Gerig has worked to develop consistency from the perimeter and will provide an additional driving presence from the wing position.
Kayla Hyde, 5-9, Bourbonnais, Ill. Hyde is a sophomore transfer and local BBCHS standout. An early season ankle injury will postpone her debut.
Morgan Fly, 5-7, Chicago, Ill. A wing player, Fly should thrive in the Tigers’ up-tempo system and will see minutes in the spring semester.
Ashley Freeman, 5-7, Hartford, Wis. A wing player, Freeman shot 38 percent from behind the arc last season. She should thrive in the Tiger’s face-paced three point shooting game.
Joslyn Nicholson, 5-10, Cary, Ill. A Fox Valley All-Conference player, Nicholson brings versatility and athleticism and will contribute at both the guard and forward positions.
Kayla Krassman, 5-11, Hartford, Wis. Averaging 35 percent from behind the arc last season, Krassman will look to contribute at the high post position. Her minutes will hinge on her ability to recover from an injury she has been battling through the summer.
Sarah Kearney, 6-4, Monroeville, N.J. Kearney averaged 17.9 points and 15.6 rebounds to lead her team to a state championship as a senior. She will be a threat at the high post position for the Tigers.