FORT SMITH, Ark. – After almost a month of preseason practice and one exhibition game, the regular season has finally arrived for first-year UAFS women’s basketball coach Tari Cummings and her Lady Lions.
UAFS will compete in this weekend’s four-team, two-day Conference Challenge hosted by Colorado School of Mines at Russell H. Volk Gymnasium in Golden, Colorado. The Lady Lions will play the host Orediggers at 8 p.m. on Friday and play the Colorado Christian Cougars at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Cummings inherited a team that features six returning players from last season team that finished 20-11 overall, second in the Heartland Conference and runner-up in the Heartland Conference Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Division II National Tournament – junior guard Alexsis Brown, senior guard/forwardDaijah Brown, senior guard Mariah Green, junior forward Tamera Gulley, senior forward Sarah Elkins and senior forward Ellie Lehne.
Lehne is the Lady Lions’ top returning scorer, averaging 7.2 points per game, and Gulley is the Lady Lions’ top returning rebounder, averaging four rebounds per game.
That returning group is joined by junior post Mikiah McDonald, a transfer from Connors State College; sophomore guard Dachelle Terry, a transfer from Johnson County Community College; junior guard Tae’LourRichardson, a transfer from Eastern Kentucky; and incoming freshmen guard DeeDee Nelson and forwardLeiloni Culley.
UAFS, which was picked to finish third in the Heartland Conference, played just one exhibition game during the preseason, a 100-73 loss to NCAA Division I Arkansas State. Green led the Lady Lions with 19 points, while Daijah Brown and Lehne had 13 and 12 points, respectively. Gulley just missed a double-double, finishing with nine points and nine rebounds.
Colorado School of Mines was picked to finish tied for fourth in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
The Orediggers return six letterwinners and four redshirt freshmen from last season’s team that finished 18-11 overall. Colorado School of Mines added four incoming freshmen and one graduate transfer in the offseason.
Senior forward Nicole Archambeau led the Orediggers in scoring (12.2 points per game) and rebounding (9.5 rebounds per game) last season.