BEAVERTON, Ore. - Coming off its seventh 20-win season in the last eight years, the West Liberty University women's basketball team showed up at No. 21 on Tuesday when the Women's Division II Bulletin released its annual NCAA Division II Preseason Top 25.
Senior guard Hillary Southworth, the nation's second-leading scorer with a school-record 24.1 ppg. a year ago, was tabbed as one of the nation's "Super Sixteen" players atop the Women's Division II Bulletin's Preseason All-America list. The "Super Sixteen" is a listing of the top two players in each of the eight regions.
Led by veteran coach Lynn Ullom, who heads into his 23rd season at West Liberty as the winningest women's basketball coach in West Virginia history with a sparkling 452-207 (.686) record, the Hilltoppers return a solid nucleus from last year's West Virginia Conference runner-up squad that just missed an NCAA Tournament bid with a 21-8 mark.
The 5-foot-10 Southworth, a returning first-team All-American, leads the way. The 2013 West Virginia Conference and Atlantic Region Player of the Year, Southworth had 20 games with 20 or more points, topped the 30-point mark on six occasions and scored a career-high 43 points during a late-season win at Pitt-Johnstown. Along with setting a school record of 8 consecutive games with 25 or more points, she led the team in nearly every offensive category - 700 points (24.1 ppg.), 184 rebounds (6.3 rpg.), 63 3-point field goals and 60 steals.
Also back for the Black and Gold is 5-7 sophomore guard Liz Flowers, a member of the WVIAC All-Freshman Team who averaged nearly 10 points and six rebounds a night while ranking among the nation's top 20 point guards with 148 assists. Bri Kamarec, a 5-9 junior guard, started nearly every game and excelled on the defensive end of the court while showing the ability to knock down clutch shots in key situations.
Jenn Mohney, a 5-9 junior guard, and Jasmin Kiley, a 5-7 sophomore guard, provided an offensive spark off the bench last year and should see their roles expand this winter along with 5-11 sophomore Kiki Simpson, who showed the potential to emerge as one of the top rebounders and shot-blockers in the region.
Women's Division II Bulletin
2013-14 Preseason Top 25
2. Clayton State
4. Central Missouri
5. Nova Southeastern
6. Concordia-St. Paul
7. Midwestern State
8. Delta State
9. Emporia State
11. Western Washington
12. South Carolina-Aiken
13. Holy Family
14. Chico State
17. Michigan Tech
19. Colorado Mesa
21. WEST LIBERTY
24. Metro State
25. New York Tech
Teams to Watch (alphabetical order): Academy of Art, Cal-San Diego, Edinboro, Findlay, Minnesota State, Newberry, Shaw, Simon Fraser, Tarleton State, West Texas A&M
2013-14 Preseason All-America Team
Jen Papich, sr., F, Gannon
HILLARY SOUTHWORTH, SR., G, WEST LIBERTY
*Lauren Battista, Sr., F, Bentley
Courtney Finn, Sr., G, Bentley
Sarah DeShone, Sr., G, Ferris State
Anna Hackerts, Jr., F, Southern Indiana
South Central Region
Jackie Woods, Sr., G, St. Mary's
Kiara Wright, Sr., C, Tarleton State
Jasmine Hammon, Sr., G, Alabama-Huntsville
Kayk Wilson, Jr., G, Florida Tech
Haylee Lepaio, Jr., C, Newberry
Nyeshea Willie, Sr., G, Barton
Keuna Flax, Sr., F, Central Missouri
Anika Whiting, Jr., F, Concordia-St. Paul
J.J. Judge, Sr., G, Cal Poly-Pomona
Bobbi Knudsen, Sr., G, Montana State-Billings
*-Preseason Player of the Year
MEC Honorable Mention
Hailey Garrett, Jr., Fairmont State
Chelsea Bradley, a 5-9 sophomore guard who earned several starts as a true freshman two years ago, returns after sitting out last year as a medical redshirt and speedy 5-4 point guard Janay Bottoms joins the roster after redshirting last winter.
A promising group of newcomers includes a pair of NCAA Division I transfers in 5-10 Kailee Howe (Morehead State) and 5-10 Lindsey Fenwick (Army), along with a pair of talented freshmen. Emily Bucon, a 5-8 guard, and Colleen McCormick, a 5-11 post, earned multiple all-state honors during their high school careers while leading perennial West Virginia small-school power Wheeling Central to four consecutive state tournament berths.
West Liberty was the only team from the Mountain East Conference to earn Top 25 recognition. Fairmont State junior forward Hailee Garrett was an honorable mention All-America selection.
The Hilltoppers open their 2013-14 season on Nov. 8 when they take on Kutztown (Pa.) in the first game of the Glenville Tipoff Classic.