MSU Basketball Preview Women Basketball Preview

Senior guard Brice Calip fights for a loose ball against Southern Illinois in January 2021. The Lady Bears won the game 61-44.

The 2020-2021 season was another historic run for the Lady Bears. They returned to the Sweet 16 as the No. 5 seed, but the season ended after an 89-62 loss to the No. 2 seed, Stanford. 

Coach Amaka “Mox” Agugua-Hamilton said “it was an emotional ending to a magical ride.”

The Lady Bears are hoping to once again have that magical ride, winning their conference, being seeded in the NCAA Tournament, and going all the way.

“Getting to the Sweet 16 is not easy and we put ourselves in the position where that is the expectation now,” Mox said.

Coming off of a 23-3 season and 16-0 in conference play, the Lady Bears rightfully earned the first place ranking in the Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball preseason poll for the second year in a row.

These poll votes are placed by coaches, sports information directors and media, and the Lady Bears took home 35 out of the 40 votes.

This first place ranked team is led by seven seniors and four returning starters including senior guard Brice Calip, senior forward Jasmine Franklin, senior forward Abby Hipp and senior guard Sydney Wilson.

Calip and Franklin are starting the season coming off of Missouri Valley Conference recognition. Calip was named MVC Player of the Year and Franklin MVC Defensive Player of the Year. 

With having four returning starters, Mox said she is hopeful for a strong start to the season. 

“We have an experienced roster that has been to multiple NCAA tournaments,” Mox said. “We’ve got some hungry kids that have some great leadership.”

Not only is Mox looking forward to her returners, she said is also excited for the transfers such as senior guard Mariah White.

Mox said that White is a dynamic guard, able to score and a player who knows her way around the defensive end. This earned White the Horizon League’s Defensive Player of the Year at Cleveland State.

“She is a guard who can get downhill, knows how to use her body to get to the foul line and you can always use that,” Mox said.

Mox is also looking forward to transfers like sophomore forward Jennifer Ezeh (Duke) and junior forward Ifunanya Nwachukwu (Chipola College).

“(Ezeh) is different than anything in our league and team. She is a traditional low-post scorer, 6’4”, strong and a rebounder,” Mox said. “Nya is an athlete, she finds a way to get rebounds over everybody.”

The Lady Bears have two exhibition matches early in November, but officially get the ball rolling on Nov. 9 against the Little Rock Trojans in Arkansas, and at home on Nov. 14 against North Texas. 

Follow Makayla Strickland on Twitter, m_strickland28.

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