Women’s basketball 2020-2021 season preview

The women’s basketball team begins its 12th season next week. Last season the Saints finished first in the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) regular season standings and earned a spot in the NAIA Championship Tournament as the No. 3 seed before the season was canceled due to COVID-19.

Coaching staff

Stephens returns to lead the Saints for her second year at the helm and her fourth year overall at OLLU. The team finished 26-6 overall and 17-1 in the RRAC during the 2019-2020 season. Assistant Coach Tommy Turgeon joins the Saints after being hired this fall. Turgeon previously coached at Colorado Northwestern Community College, the University of Denver, and Wagner College, among others. Kari Wallace returns for her seventh season as a volunteer assistant, Brandon Postell returns for his fifth, and Jay Guerra will join the coaching staff as a volunteer assistant. In addition, Brianna Henson returns as a volunteer assistant after spending last season as a student assistant. Nileyah Vaughn and Jamia Miller will be student assistants.

Preconference matchups

The Saints will open their season on Nov. 10 with a nonconference game against North American University (first matchup) and will travel to Lubbock, Texas, for an exhibition against NCAA D2 Lubbock Christian University on Nov. 17. After a game in Plainview, Texas, against the NAIA’s No. 2-ranked Wayland Baptist University (WBB/4-5) on Nov. 19, the Saints will host their annual Halo Classic on Nov. 24-25. The Saints will open with the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (USAO/1-0), followed by WBU and conference rival LSU-Alexandria (LSUA/11-1). On Saturday, USAO will face LSUA first, followed by OLLU against WBU.

OLLU will travel to Springfield, Mo., for a Dec. 17 game against Evangel University (1-0) and on Dec. 18 against No. 13-ranked Clarke University (first game). The Saints were slated to play Clarke in the opening round of the NAIA Championship Tournament in March 2020.

Conference overview

The RRAC schedule will begin in January for the Saints, and all 10 teams in the conference are expected to play as of now. OLLU hopes to repeat as conference regular-season champions after only losing one regular-season conference game against LSU-Shreveport. Last season, the Pilots were the regular-season runner-up and tournament champion (23-7/14-4), followed by LSUA (17-10/13-5), Paul Quinn College (14-15/12-6), Wiley College (14-13/11-7), Huston-Tillotson University (13-12/10-8), Jarvis Christian College (6-20/6-12), University of the Southwest (8-19/5-13), Texas A&M University-Texarkana (4-26/1-17) and Texas College (3-25/1-17).

NAIA statistical synopsis

The Saints open the season ranked No. 25 in the NAIA Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll. The women have made the Top 25 poll every week since the 2012-2013 season. They are picked to finish second in the RRAC behind LSUS.

Statistically, the women are one of the top teams in the NAIA. They enter this year after ending 2020 as the top-ranked team in scoring offense (3227/100.84), scoring margin (29.00), turnover margin (11.688), field-goal percentage (.469) and free-throw percentage (.802); third in total rebound offense (1425) and steals (489/15.281); sixth in total rebounds per game (44.531) and offensive rebounds/game (15.938); eighth in total assists (542); and 10th in assists per game (16.938) and total three-point field goals made (262).

Beginning this year, the NAIA’s Division I and Division II teams will be merged into one. The Saints have previously been part of the Division I category.


Returning to this year’s squad are seniors Keviona Barber (SR/Little Elm, Texas), 2019-2020 All-Conference Honorable  Mention, Alexandra Strawhorn (SR/Kyneton, Victoria, Australia), Zerina Shatri (SR/Istog, Kosovo) and Emiko Hemphill (SR/San Antonio, Texas). Junior Dezeree White (JR/Houston, Texas) returns after an illustrious season last year when she was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. She earned All-Conference First-Team honors, was the NAIA’s Player of the Week, and she broke the Saints record for most steals in a game (10). 

The returning sophomore class consists of Tiffany Lopez (SO/San Antonio, Texas), 2019-2020 Champions of Character, Natalia Trevino (SO/Laredo, Texas) and Angeline Sanchez (SO/Cibolo, Texas).

Stephens, the 2019-2020 RRAC Coach of the Year, discussed the seniors saying, “They will have an increased role on the team, and I expect them to bring leadership. I am excited for the upcoming season.”


Newcomers to the squad include Ny’Asia Goldman (JR/Sugarland, Texas/McClennan CC), Gabrielle Guzman (JR/Moore, Okla/Allen CC) and  Miranda Villegas (SO/Levelland, Texas/UT-Tyler).

The Saints’ freshmen class includes Cormia Lewis (FR/Houston, Texas) and Atlantis White (FR/Houston, Texas). Stephens said, “The recruiting process amid COVID-19 was an adjustment from the past, but we believe we have recruited a talented incoming class that will help carry on the strong tradition of women’s basketball at OLLU.”

Game information

In an abundance of caution, OLLU will not allow spectators to home games through Jan. 1. Only a restricted, pre-determined list of attendees will be allowed to attend.

All home matches will be live-streamed through the OLLU Sports Information Office on the athletics YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/OLLUSaints.