2020-21 Small College Women's Basketball Preview

Texas A&M Commerce Athletics

The state of Texas traditionally has some of the top basketball teams in the country at every level and the 2020-2021 season will be no exception.

Lubbock Christian was unable to defend its national title last season as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the season before the NCAA tournament. However, the Lady Chaps were able to secure their first Lone Star Conference tournament title and were set to host the South Central Regional before the shutdown.

Texas A&M-Commerce had an incredible season and Lions head coach Jason Burton was named Small College Coach of the Year and LSC Coach of the Year after earning their first appearance in the  Lone Star Conference Tournament title game in 13 years.

The Lady Chaps and Texas A&M-Commerce were joined by West Texas A&M, Angelo State and Eastern New Mexico as the LSC had five teams selected to the South Central Regional. 

The Lone Star Conference will be an exceptionally tough conference once again this year and Lubbock Christian expects to compete for the title again. The Lady Chaps return plenty of talent led by Allie Schulte and Ashton Duncan.

Texas A&M-Commerce will be potent once again as the Lions return Chania Wright and Dyani Robinson to lead a fast-paced attack. West Texas dealt with injuries from the outset last year but will once again challenge for the conference title with the return of Lexy Hightower from injury along with All-Lone Star Conference selections Abby Spurgin and Delaney Nix.

Eastern New Mexico and head coach Josh Prock will seek a third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance led by Zamorye Cox and Alivia Lewis. Angelo State head coach Nate Harris led the Rambelles to another NCAA tournament appearance in his first season at the helm and will reload after losing De’Anira Moore and Catara Samuel to graduation.

St. Mary’s is poised to challenge for a postseason spot this year with the return of Soteria Banks and Hannah Wilson while Cameron will be led by dynamic guard Maighan Hedge and senior forward Jazmin Luster.

Arkansas-Fort Smith returns All-Lone Star Conference sophomore Hannah Boyett and senior Mar’Shalia Lollie and will be a contender for a spot in the conference tournament in Frisco. Texas Woman’s will be led by senior Ma’K’La Woods as they try to rebound from a disappointing season.

Midwestern State will be led by head coach Christopher Reay following the passing of Noel Johnson from Ovarian Cancer as Reay inherits a young squad with dynamic playmakers Frances King, Kityana Diaz and Mandy Withey.

St. Edward’s will build of an 18-11 mark with the return of three of the Hilltoppers four leading scorers including sophomore Charli Becker and junior Haley Blankinship as UT Tyler continues to transition to Division II.

UTPB, Western New Mexico, Texas A&M-Kingsville, Oklahoma Christian and Texas A&M International hope to challenge for a spot in the Lone Star Conference Tournament.

Division III basketball will have a different look this season with star players Abby Holland (Trinity), Sheridan Hopkins (St. Thomas), Hannah Holt (Mary Hardin-Baylor), Taylor Gaffney (Hardin-Simmons) and Victoria Pena (UT Dallas) graduating.

UMHB head coach Mark Morefield has built the Crusaders into a consistent winner and the Cru won their first American Southwest Conference title last year. UMHB followed that performance by defeating Austin College and UT Dallas to return to the Sectionals for the second straight season. The Cru were unable to advance any further due to the pandemic.

UT Dallas returns All-American Raenett Hughes and she will once again lead a Comets team favored to win the American Southwest Conference and earn a spot in the NCAA tournament for the sixth time in the last seven years.

UMHB will reload with a talented recruiting class and will feature junior Allaira Jones while Hardin-Simmons made a strong run at the end of last season thanks in part to the play of Parris Parmer who returns for her sophomore season.

East Texas Baptist will have a new head coach as Blake Arbogast was promoted to the top position following the departure of Rusty Rainbolt. Arbogast inherits a talented roster including Amanda Wilson and Taylor Singleton. LeTourneau seeks a return to the American Southwest Conference Tournament led by senior guard Keauna Whitfield.

Bria Neal returns to lead a Howard Payne squad that improved last year and earned a spot in the American Southwest Conference Tournament while the future is bright for Concordia Texas with sophomores Natalie Velardez and Madi Maxwell. Keke Lyles returns to lead Belhaven this year.

Sul Ross State, McMurry, Louisiana College and Ozarks look to rebound after a tough year and earn a spot in the American Southwest Conference Tournament.

Austin College won their first Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference title last year and returns a talented squad led by seniors Kacie West, Ally Longaker and Reagan Chiaverini. Seniors Julia Ackerman and Emily Daniel return for Trinity as the Tigers seek a return to the NCAA tournament.

Schreiner will be led by sophomore sensation Zahra Cross and senior Sydney Williams while Colorado College returns All-South Collegiate Athletic Conference senior McKenzee Gertz. Southwestern and Texas Lutheran will seek to return to the conference tournament as Centenary (La.) and Dallas will try to challenge for a spot in the SCAC tournament.

In NAIA, Our Lady of the Lake had an incredible season posting a 26-6 overall record and 17-1 conference record but fell to LSU Shreveport in the Red River Athletic Conference title game.

OLLU will reload for another run this season and will be led by junior guard Dezeree White while LSU Shreveport will be a favorite in the conference again thanks to seniors Fu’tra Banks and DeAuja Thompson.

The Red River Athletic Conference will be a tough one once again this year thanks to the return of All-RRAC selections Traeli Calhoun (Huston-Tillotson), Ciera Daniels and Kelsey Thaxton (LSU Alexandria), Brianna Page and Daeja Monroe (Jarvis Christian), Brianna Tolliver and Kyani Moore (Wiley), Symone Carmenar (Paul Quinn), Taylor Crabtree (Texas College), Isabel Rodriguez (Southwest N.M.) and Milan Francis-Miller (Texas A&M-Texarkana).

Wayland Baptist had another outstanding year last season with a second consecutive Sooner Athletic Conference tournament title. The Flying Queens will have a unique voice on the sidelines with Andy Ellis joining his wife and WBU head coach, Alesha, on the sidelines.

Oklahoma City turned to an alum to take the reigns of a successful program as Brett Tahah inherits a team that finished 30-2 last year and features the return of All-American junior Abby Selzer and All-SAC selections Mallory Lockhart and Erika Ankney.

All-SAC returnees include Kaylee Edgemon and Jenna Cooper (Wayland Baptist), Asheika Alexander (Langston), Thamires Andrade (Southwestern Christian) and Taylor Fergen (John Brown).

 

Hogue Projections

LONE STAR

Division
1. West Texas A&M
2. Lubbock Christian
3. Eastern New Mexico
4. Angelo State
5. UT Permian Basin
6. Western New Mexico

Division
1. St. Edward’s
2. St. Mary’s
3. Texas Woman’s
4. Texas A&M International
5. Texas A&M-Kingsville

Division
1. Texas A&M-Commerce
2. Midwestern State
3. Cameron
4. Arkansas Fort-Smith
5. Oklahoma Christian
6. UT Tyler

AMERICAN SOUTHWEST

East
1. UT Dallas
2. East Texas Baptist
3. LeTourneau
4. Belhaven
5. Louisiana College
6. Ozarks

West
1. Mary Hardin-Baylor
2. Hardin-Simmons
3. Concordia Texas
4. Howard Payne
5. McMurry
6. Sul Ross State

SOUTHERN COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC

1. Austin College
2. St. Thomas
3. Trinity
4. Schreiner
5. Texas Lutheran
6. Colorado College
7. Southwestern
8. Centenary (La.)
9. Dallas

RED RIVER ATHLETIC
1. Our Lady of the Lake
2. LSU Shreveport
3. Paul Quinn
4. LSU Alexandria
5. Huston-Tillotson
6. Wiley
7. Southwest
8. Texas College
9. Texas A&M-Texarkana

SOONER ATHLETIC
1. Oklahoma City
2. Wayland Baptist
3. Mid-America Christian
4. USAO
5. Southwestern Christian
6. Texas Wesleyan
7. SAGU
8. Langston
9. John Brown
10. Central Christian
11. Oklahoma Panhandle State

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