MVNU Women's Basketball Team
Finishes Challenging Year
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio - After losing eight players from the previous year's roster, the Mount Vernon Nazarene University women's basketball team knew that the 2002-2003 season would be full of challenges.
Add to that the fact that one of their top returning guards, Jenny Slack, suffered a season-ending knee injury during preseason workouts and a possible Division I transfer was declared ineligible due to insufficient credits, the Lady Cougars knew that they were not in for an easy season.
"Even though we were faced with a lot of adversity and a lack of depth early in the preseason, our kids seemed to handle it well and were ready to attack the season head-on," said MVNU head coach Steve Gregory, who finished his fifth year with the Lady Cougars.
Things started out well for MVNU, though, as the team opened the season with wins over Concordia (Mich.) University and Carlow (Pa.) College to win their own Tip-off Tournament. Then, the Lady Cougars split the next four games as their record moved to 4-2.
After four straight losses, MVNU rebounded to win five of its next seven games to improve to 9-8 overall. During that span, the Lady Cougars rallied for an impressive come-from-behind win over Malone College and also avenged an early defeat with a victory over Wilberforce University.
"This was definitely a learning and growing year for us," said Gregory. "Early in the season, we shot the ball well from three-point range and kept ourselves in games with our defense. We were not a team gifted with great speed or leaping ability, but we had a good work ethic and lots of intensity."
At that point, MVNU began a span of 11 straight American Mideast Conference South Division games that included four games against teams ranked in the NAIA Division II poll. The Lady Cougars struggled with their shooting touch as the team dropped all 11 games to equal the school record for most consecutive losses.
"By mid-January, we were not the same team," Gregory said. "We slumped in the shooting department, rebounding woes hurt us, and turnovers did not help, especially when we were already struggling to put the ball in the basket. Added to that, the AMC South Division would eventually send three teams to the NAIA Division II national tournament, so to say we played in a very good conference would be an understatement."
However, the team rebounded to win its season finale with an exciting 67-65 overtime victory over Seton Hill (Pa.) University as MVNU rallied from a 15-point second-half deficit. With the win, the Lady Cougars finished with a 10-19 overall record.
"I am very proud of the way this team hung together all year, especially in the midst of our 11-game skid," said Gregory. "A losing streak will test any team's character, especially a young team. I thought our team handled it very well and came back to win a big game against Seton Hill. It took character, and that is what our team had all season long."
Individually, several players had good seasons. Senior guard Jenni Davis wrapped up her career by averaging 11.4 points and leading the team with 104 assists and 52 three-pointers made. For her efforts, Davis was named to the AMC South Division and NCCAA East Region Honorable Mention teams as well as earning NAIA Division II and NCCAA All-America Scholar-Athlete honors for the second straight year. She also became the 14th player in MVNU women's basketball history to reach the 1,000-point mark, and she finished second on the Lady Cougars' all-time three-pointers made list with 172 treys.
Senior forward Amanda Triplett also contributed 4.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as she closed out her fine athletic career at MVNU. A four-year performer in both volleyball and softball, she started 19 of the team's 29 games in her only season on the women's basketball team.
"Our seniors (Jenni and Amanda) did a nice job for us this season," said Gregory. "They worked very well together and battled all season long. Their commitment to our program is greatly appreciated, and they will be missed next year."
Junior guard/forward Susan Adams put together one of the most well-rounded seasons in MVNU women's basketball history as she led the team in scoring (16.5 points per game), rebounding (8.3 rebounds per game), and steals (51). She was also third on the squad with 79 assists and 14 blocked shots, and she became the 15th Lady Cougar to reach the 1,000-point mark. For her efforts, Adams was named to the AMC South Division and NCCAA East Region Second Team.
Freshman center Erin Arnett made an immediate impact in her first collegiate season as she averaged 8.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while leading the team with 21 blocked shots. She was named the Most Valuable Player of the Lady Cougar Tip-off Tournament to open the season, and she was also an NCCAA East Region Honorable Mention pick.
Sophomore center Melanie Gosnell and freshman forward Amanda Stevens each averaged 7.1 points and just over three rebounds per game, while junior guard Lisa Weller tossed in 5.9 points per game and was third on the team with 38 three-pointers made.
Sophomore point guard Amy Myers averaged 4.2 points per game and was second on the team with 81 assists. She also recorded 33 steals. Meanwhile, junior guard Kirstin Lawson contributed 2.8 points per game.
With a solid group of returning players and a talented recruiting class coming in, Coach Gregory and the Lady Cougars will look to get back to their winning ways when the 2003-2004 season rolls around.