From FHU Sports Information Office
The Freed-Hardeman University women’s basketball team enters the 2020-21 basketball season with a few new faces while heading into a brand-new conference.
The new-look Lady Lions are led by Joshua Epperson, who is entering his first season at the helm of this storied program. Along with Epperson, the team also added assistant coaches Abby Stutts and Darby Miskelly, along with former Lady Lions standout, now graduate assistant, Haylee Croom. Going into the 2020-2021 season, the Lady Lions are riding a seven-game winning streak, dating back to last season’s run to claiming the American Midwest Conference championship before the abrupt cancellation of the NAIA National Tournament due to Covid-19.
“This program has great tradition and great returning leaders,” Epperson said on the tradition and success of the Lady Lions program. “The goal is to continue the success, be good stewards and build around the players we have in the program right now.”
This year’s roster features seven returners from last season. Sophomores KJ White, Caroline Chambers and Reagan Purvine bring back experience to this Lady Lions squad along with juniors Alli Crumpler, Hannah Hughes, Alyssa LeMay and Senior Reagen Floyd. Floyd and LeMay also have national championship experience, as the last active players remaining from the 2018 national title team.
The Lady Lions are looking forward to action from redshirt freshmen Emily Garner and Mary Grace Smith. The team also welcomed six new incoming freshmen to this year’s roster in Sierra Morgan (Dickson, Tenn.), Lexie Hearn (Kingston Springs, Tenn.), Maggie Croom (Clarksville, Tenn.), Taryn Kile (Madison, Tenn.), Kenady Atkins (Gleason, Tenn.), and Katie Powers (Burnsville, Miss.).
“I’m very excited to see what positive changes are coming to the Lady Lions program,” Floyd said. “I’m ready to go out and make more memories on and off of the court in my last year at FHU.”
The 2020-2021 season presents new challenges for the Lady Lions, as the team departed the AMC for the Mid-South Conference. The Lady Lions start the season receiving votes in the initial NAIA top-25 poll. The Mid-South features several other NAIA powers in No. 4 Campbellsville, No. 9 Shawnee State, No. 14 Bethel, and (RV) Lindsey Wilson.
Coach Epperson and the Lady Lions staff have dedicated the offseason programs and practice times to ensuring the team is ready for the upcoming season.
“Our goal in our skill work and conditioning programs was to get ready for games and getting our players to be mentally tough,” Epperson said. “We want our players to use overcoming tough workouts as a template during in-game situations to overcome and push through tough situations.
“When you see us play, you can expect to see great defense and hustle and us getting after it from the jump. You can also expect us to represent the school well on and off of the court.”
The Lady Lions played against Blue Mountain College at Northeast Mississippi Community College on Saturday, and defense and easy buckets at the rim led to a win in the season opener for the Lady Lions (1-0) after defeating Blue Mountain (0-1) 58-47.
Both teams struggled to shoot from the field in the first quarter, and a buzzer beater by the Toppers gave them a 12-10 lead heading into the second period.That second quarter is when things opened up for the Lady Lions. After shooting under 30 percent from the field in the first quarter, they were able to find ways to get easy buckets at the rim, and they took a 32-29 lead into the break, shooting over 50 percent from the field in the half.
Then, the classic Lady Lions defense showed up to start the third quarter, going on a 12-1 run to open the second half and only allowing the Toppers to score just six points in the quarter. Alyssa LeMay went on a scoring run of her own in the final 20 minutes to finish with a game-high 16 points. She added 10 rebounds to earn her first double-double of the season.The Lady Lions were able to spread the scoring wealth around in the win with seven of the nine players who got in scoring points. Chambers and Floyd followed LeMay with 10 points each. White, Morgan, Hughes and Purvine each had six.
The Lady Lions will be back on November 6 when they play their first home game of the season in a matchup against Brescia.
Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m.