Women's Basketball Notes

Updated 11/24/1999
After suffering a difficult loss to Kentucky in its season opener, Miami University's women's basketball team is looking for redemption at this weekend's Santa Clara Diet Coke Shootout. The tournament, which is held in Santa Clara, Calif., also includes Davidson, Denver and host Santa Clara. Fans back home can follow Miami on WMOH radio, which will broadcast both contests. Game time is at 7 p.m. (PST) Saturday, with the consolation and championship rounds taking place at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. (PST), respectively, on Sunday.

Miami opens tournament play by taking on the hosting Santa Clara Broncos. Fresh off a title at the Columbia Classic, the Broncos enter the tournament with victories over Oakland and Drexel. An NCAA Tournament qualifier during each of the last two seasons, Santa Clara returns nine letterwinners from a squad that compiled 22 wins last season.

Among the key returning players for the Broncos are junior Annie Garrison, who averaged 12.0 points per game last season, senior Stephanie Rogers, who netted 9.8 points per game, and senior Katie Pursley, who tallied 9.2 points per game. All three are averaging in double digits this season. Santa Clara is coached by Caren Horstmeyer.

Depending on the outcome of its game on Saturday, Miami will face either Denver or Davidson on Sunday evening. The RedHawks have never faced either of their potential second-round opponents.

Davidson enters the shootout with a 0-2 record after losing at Boston College, 86-54, and against Wake Forest, 64-54, to open the season. The Wildcats, who are coached by John Filar, are coming off an 18-10 mark last season and return all but three letterwinners. Senior guard Jen O'Brien, who averaged 12.4 points per contest last season, led the Wildcats with 18 and 22 points in those two contests.

Denver enters the tournament on a high note after shocking Colorado 71-67 in its season-opener. The Pioneers, who are mentored by Pam Tanner, are coming off a 12-15 record last season and return four starters. Sophomore guard Melissa Garcia and junior center Michaela Pavlickova led Denver in the season- opener, netting 18 and 16 points.

Miami University's women's basketball team absorbed the worst season-opening loss in the program's history last Monday, falling 77-39 to the University of Kentucky.

After falling behind 12-2 in the opening minutes of the contest, the RedHawks assembled a brief rally to close to within 20-15 by the seven-minute mark. Kentucky responded with a 26-6 run over the next 10 minutes to knock Miami out of the game. Slowed by an aggressive Wildcat defense that forced 30 turnovers, the RedHawks recorded the second-lowest point total in the their program's history. Miami shot just 23 percent (16-69) and took its worst defeat since a 44-point loss at Duke in 1993.

Kentucky, which moved to 2-0 on the year, was led by four players in double figures. Laura Meadows led the way with 18 points, while Erica Jackson and Tanesha Seaton tallied 15 and Carolyn Alexander netted 10.

Miami, which placed only one player in double figures, was paced by AuBree Hamilton's (Lima, Ohio/Bath) 16 points and nine rebounds.

Miami University's women's basketball team overcame a sluggish start but was unable to make up the difference in a 99-91 exhibition loss to the Premier All-Stars.

After trailing by as many as 16 points in the first half, Miami overcame a 12-point halftime deficit to take a six-point lead with under six minutes to play. The All-Stars responded with a 10-0 run over the next two minutes to regain control and stifle the RedHawk rally.

Miami, which continued its success from beyond the three-point arc with 11 treys, was led on the night by five players in double figures. Junior Jenny Martin (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove) led the RedHawks with 19 points off eight-of-12 shooting. AuBree Hamilton (Lima, Ohio/Bath) and Heather Cusick (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo) each added 15 points, while Hollie Nelsen (Waupaca, Wis./Waupaca) and Jana Butler (Findlay, Ohio/Liberty-Benton) added 12 and 11 points, respectively.

The Premier All-Stars were led by former Ohio State standout Larecha Jones' 21 points.

Now in her second season at the head of Miami University's women's basketball program, Maria Fantanarosa is aiming to keep the program on the rise. A former standout on the court at Miami, Fantanarosa led the RedHawks to an 11-15 overall mark and 7-9 league record last season, despite having just eight scholarship players on her roster. The team ranked 24th nationally in three-point field goals made per game, while AuBree Hamilton (Lima, Ohio/Bath) ranked fourth nationally in rebounding and 23rd in blocked shots.

A 1990 graduate of Miami, Fantanarosa accepted the coaching position at her alma mater following a season as head coach at Western Carolina. She currently owns an overall coaching record of 18-36 (.333).

Prior to hitting a brick wall versus Kentucky last Monday, Miami had been demonstrating the same type of shooting skills that ranked it 24th in the nation in made three-point field goals per game last season.

In two exhibition games, six RedHawks combined to total 23 three-point field goals. Miami was 12-of-31 from three-point range versus the Cincinnati Stars and hit 11-of-25 treys against the Premier All-Stars. Leading the RedHawks from downtown was freshman Heather Cusick (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo), who had seven preseason treys, senior Jamie Stewart (Rushville, Ind./Consolidated), who tallied six three-point bombs and Hollie Nelsen (Waupaca, Wis./Waupaca) who hit five from beyond the arc.

In a dismal shooting night versus Kentucky, the RedHawks lost their rhythm, connecting on just three-of-23 three-point attempts.

Last season, Miami averaged 6.04 three-point field goals per game. Stewart and Nelsen led the team, averaging 2.31 and 1.83 treys per game, respectively. The RedHawks averaged 18.67 three-point attempts per game as a team.

Second-year Miami Head Coach Maria Fantanarosa and her RedHawks won't be able to sneak up on many teams in this season's Mid-American Conference race.

Miami, which finished fifth in the MAC's East Division last season, has been selected to finish third in the East Division and fifth overall in a preseason poll conducted by members of the MAC News Media Association. The poll, which was announced Oct. 20 at the MAC's women's basketball media day, selected defending East Division Champion Kent to repeat as division champion, while Akron was picked to finish second.

In the West Division race, defending MAC Champion Toledo was picked first, followed by Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Central Michigan and Ball State. Kent was the overwhelming favorite to win the first MAC Tournament Title of the new millennium, claiming 26 of the 34 first-place votes. Toledo, which was second in the tournament championship voting, has collided with Kent in the championship game during each of the past four seasons.

Expectations are already high for Miami senior AuBree Hamilton (Lima, Ohio/Bath) who was named to the preseason all-MAC team. Hamilton, who averaged a double-double a game last season, is coming off a season in which she led the MAC in rebounding and blocked shots. Nationally, Hamilton ranked fourth in rebounding and 23rd in blocked shots. She was a second-team all-MAC selection last season and established Miami single-season records for rebounding and blocked shots.

Joining Hamilton on the team were Kent's Dawn Zerman, Western Michigan's Shelsea Erving, Eastern Michigan's Kristy Maska and Akron's Cheryl Bowles. Hamilton is the first Miami player to be named to an all-MAC first team since Monica Niemann in 1995.

Miami may only return six returning letterwinners, but, in this case, it's the quality and not the quantity that counts. Of the RedHawks' six returners, five started at least 12 games and all six played in more than 20 contests. Miami is led by senior captains AuBree Hamilton (Lima, Ohio/Bath), Jamie Stewart (Rushville, Ohio/Consolidated) and Lindsay Winkler (Anderson, Ind./Lapel). Stewart and Winkler each started all 26 games during the 1998-99 season.

The RedHawks also return a very explosive junior class. Jenny Martin (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove) and Hollie Nelsen (Waupaca, Wis./Waupaca) both averaged in double digits last season, while Valerie Jones (Elizabethtown, Ky./Elizabethtown) saw action in 22 games.

Of Miami's six returning players, all scored in double digits at least once with four clearing the 20-point barrier during the season. Four of Miami's returning letterwinners averaged in double digits last season.

Martin led the RedHawks during the preseason, averaging 14.5 points per game, while Hamilton averaged 14.0 and Nelsen and Stewart contributed 11.5 each.

With just six returning letterwinners, Miami is expecting big things from a freshman class that was ranked as one of the top 75 recruiting classes in the nation.

One of the keys to the upcoming season will be the development of three freshman post players. Jana Butler (Findlay, Ohio/Liberty-Benton), a 6-2 all-Ohio selection, Andrea Pruett (Canton, Mich./Plymouth Salem), a 6-1 all-Michigan honoree and Kelli Stamper (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic), an honorable mention all-USA Today selection, are all expected to add depth to the RedHawk interior.

Miami's perimeter game will also benefit from some strong additions. All-Indiana selections Heather Cusick (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo) and Beth Roederer (Indianapolis, Ind./Cathedral) both bring deep three-point range and strong defensive skills to the Miami lineup. Sophomore Kristolyn Curtis (Hamilton, Ohio/Hamilton), another addition to the Miami guard court, is expected to help the RedHawk transition game with her athleticism.

"These six newcomers give us the dimensions that were our biggest weaknesses last season," Head Coach Maria Fantanarosa said. "We'll be deeper and more skilled at every position. These are players with good basketball heads and good basketball ability."

During the exhibition season, Miami's freshmen performed admirably. Butler, Stamper and Cusick all scored in double digits in at least one game, with Cusick placing third on the team with a 12.5 points per game average.

Miami doesn't have the luxury of easing into its 1999-2000 schedule. The RedHawks opened the season last Monday versus Kentucky, which was ranked 32nd in the nation in the USA Today/ESPN preseason poll. From there, Miami travels to Santa Clara, Calif., to compete in the Santa Clara Diet Coke Shootout. The RedHawks tangle with host Santa Clara, a 1999 NCAA Qualifier, in the first round. In the second round, Miami will face Denver or Davidson.

In all, eight of Miami's potential opponents this year won at least 18 games last season. Four of Miami's 1999-2000 opponents (Kent, Kentucky, Santa Clara and Xavier) received votes in a preseason poll.

Several Miami players are aiming to continue their climbs on the Miami career all-time lists. AuBree Hamilton (Lima, Ohio/Bath) currently is tied for seventh-all time in rebounds (550) and is on pace to move into the top three. Hamilton is fifth on the career blocked shots list (84) and needs 47 rejections to tie Amy Franz (1984-88) for the career lead.

Senior Jamie Stewart (Rushville, Ind./Consolidated) is within striking distance of Miami's three-point shooting records. The senior needs 153 attempts and 63 makes to tie Lisa Hayden (1991-95) in both categories.

Hollie Nelsen (Waupaca, Wis./Waupaca) also is climbing on Miami's career three-point shooting lists. The junior ranks seventh in made three-point field goals (58) and fifth in attempts (193).

Miami's women's basketball program has found the state of Indiana to be a very fertile recruiting ground. Jenny Martin (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove), Jamie Stewart (Rushville, Ind./Consolidated) and Lindsay Winkler (Anderson, Ind./Lapel) are joined this season by fellow Hoosier State standouts Heather Cusick (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo) and Beth Roederer (Indianapolis, Ind./Cathedral). All five were all-Indiana selections while in high school.

The RedHawk roster is further broken down with three Ohio natives (AuBree Hamilton, Jana Butler and Kristolyn Curtis) two Kentucky natives (Valerie Jones and Kelli Stamper) and one Wisconsin native (Hollie Nelsen).

Miami University women's basketball coach Maria Fantanarosa announced recently the signing of three Ohio standouts to national letters of intent. Colleen Day (Independence, Ohio/Holy Name), Kim Lancaster (Cincinnati, Ohio/Princeton) and Melanie Kozlowski (Parma Heights, Ohio/Holy Name) combine to form a 1999 recruiting class that has Fantanarosa excited.

Lancaster, a 6-foot-1 forward, is entering her senior season at Cincinnati's Princeton H.S., where she has helped the Lady Vikings to a two-year record of 43-4 and back-to-back Greater Miami Conference titles. Ranked as one of the top 100 senior prospects in the nation by All-Star Girls Report, Lancaster has been among Princeton's top two in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage during each of her first three seasons.

Day and Kozlowski, who are both in their senior years at Holy Name H.S., comprise one of the strongest prep tandems in Ohio. Last season, the duo led the Green Waves to a 24-1 overall record and a trip to the Ohio regional finals.

Day, a six-foot forward, was a third-team all-Ohio selection last season, averaging 15.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.0 steals per game. A two-sport standout, Day has been a fixture on the varsity level in both basketball and volleyball since her freshman year.

Kozlowski, a 6-foot-1 guard, earned second-team all-Ohio plaudits last season, tallying 19.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.0 steals and 3.5 assists per game. The MVP of the North Coast League last season, Kozlowski shot 52 percent from the field during her junior campaign.

During the 1999-2000 academic year, the Miami Athletic Department is pleased to recognize the impact of women's intercollegiate athletics at Miami.

The first female student was admitted to Miami University in 1887, but it was not until 1975 that the women's program was "officially" recognized as part of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Since that time the program has grown to eleven sports.

Miami's women's basketball team was one of the original women's programs installed at Miami. In the past 25 years, the program has earned three MAC regular season titles and compiled an overall record of 377-290.