OLLU has elevated Stacy Stephens to head coach for the women’s basketball program after she spent a little less than one year as interim.
Athletic Director Shane Hurley commented, “Stacy has had a prestigious career as a player and was an excellent assistant coach for Christopher Minner. Over the years, Stacy has learned a lot about college athletics and women’s basketball through her own initiative and by working with some highly decorated and experienced coaches. We as a department and institution look forward to seeing the continuation of the fruits of her labor due to drive and initiative.”
In her first year leading the team, the Saints captured the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) regular-season title and finished as runners-up in the conference tournament. She and the women were on their way to Montana for their ninth trip to the NAIA National Championship Tournament but only made it off campus before being called back. The news hit that the NAIA had canceled the championship tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The women finished the season with a 26-6 overall record and 17-1 in conference. Under Stephens’ guidance, the Saints earned NAIA top statistical rankings in scoring offense, scoring margin, turnover margin, field goal percentage, and free-throw percentage.
Two of her players earned NAIA All-American honors including Third-Team selectee Kasey Saldana and Honorable Mention winner Dezeree White. Both also received All-Conference First-Team recognition, and White was selected as RRAC Defensive Player of the Year. In addition, Jamia Miller and Lena Wilson received Second-Team honors, while Keviona Barber was named to the Honorable Mention Team and Tiffany Lopez received Champions of Character recognition. Earlier in the season, White was named NAIA Player of the Week, and RRAC Coach of the Year Stephens was singled out as Head Coach of the Week by HoopDirt.Com. Wilson scored her 1,000th-point under Stephens, while Saldana earned that feat last year. This year, Saldana became the top-scoring female basketball player at OLLU and second overall among both men and women.
“I’m really happy to continue working within the OLLU Athletic Department,” Stephens said. “I thank Dr. Diane Melby, Dr. Lourdes Alvarez, Shane Hurley and the rest of the hiring committee for their faith in me as a coach.
“I am very proud of the student-athletes I have had a chance to coach so far, and we will continue to work hard for the future success of the program.”
Stephens joined the coaching staff at OLLU in July 2017 as an assistant coach. Before OLLU, she had a three-year stint as an assistant coach at NCAA DI Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. Additionally, she held the title of special assistant to the women’s basketball team at the University of Texas at Austin (UT). Her position with the Longhorns came after an illustrious collegiate career in the burnt orange and white jersey.
For the Longhorns, Stephens was a two-time Associated Press Second Team All-American and a finalist for the State Farm Wade Trophy – given to the best women’s basketball player in NCAA DI competition – and the Naismith Award – given to the top women’s collegiate basketball players – during her junior and senior years. She was a two-time Big 12 first-team player.
The Longhorns’ team with Stephens earned a 2003 NCAA Final Four berth and two regular-season and one tournament championship in the Big 12 Conference. She concluded her collegiate career tallying more than 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. She averaged 12.7 points and 9.1 rebounds per game while suiting up for the Texas Longhorns from 2000-2004.
Stephens was a third-round draft pick for the Houston Comets of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) in 2004, and she spent four years playing professionally in the United States, Portugal, Sweden and Turkey.
Prior to her coaching position at UT, Stephens was assistant coach at NAIA/Red River Athletic Conference’s (RRAC) Texas College and director of basketball operations at Colorado State University.
In 2017, Stephens was inducted into the University of Texas Athletics Women’s Hall of Honor. She will also be honored with the induction into the 2020 Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame for her excellent high-school career at Winnsboro High School.
Stephens received a Bachelor of Science from UT and earned a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration from Sam Houston State University.
Stephens now officially heads one of the best NAIA women’s basketball programs in the country. In 2018-2019, the Saints etched their names in the record books by becoming the first team at OLLU to reach the “Fab Four” during the NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship. The Saints have made 10 trips to the conference tournament and have captured two tournament titles. Additionally, the team made an appearance at the national championship tournament nine seasons in a row. The women’s basketball team has also been ranked the past nine seasons in the NAIA Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll.
Saints fans are encouraged to come out to Mabee Gymnasium this season to watch the women’s basketball team’s exciting and fast-paced style. The team’s 2020-21 schedule will be released at a later date. To stay up-to-date on all things OLLU women’s basketball, fans can visit http://www.ollusaintsathletics.com/sport/0/12.php.