By Sam Armstrong
BUENA VISTA, Va. – The Southern Virginia University women's basketball team recently completed the 2017-18 season, posting an overall 12-13 record for the highest win total the program has had since 2012-13. The Knights also posted a 5-13 record against Capital Athletic Conference opponents.
"I feel like we made a big jump this year in terms of our competitiveness in all games, especially in conference play," said head coach Heather Roberts. "The girls all bought in and it was fun to see them grow and come together as a team to accomplish many of our goals."
The Knights made huge strides in winning eight more games and four more CAC contests than last year, as well as scoring about four more points per game and dishing out three more assists than the 2016-17 season. Their 71.4 points per game were tied for second in the conference, and the team's 16.7 assists per game and 5.2 blocks per game were first.
The offense for Southern Virginia was built on unselfish passing that flowed through the team's two All-CAC post players, Katie Garrish and Shelby Butler, who both commanded the other team's attention every time they touched the ball.
Garrish, a freshman, took home CAC Rookie of the Year honors in an impressive year in which she posted marks of 15.0 points per game, 11.2 rebounds per game, and 3.1 blocks per game. Butler, a four-year senior, put up an impressive 13.0 points per game and 6.1 rebounds per contest. Both players were named to the All-CAC Second Team.
As for the perimeter players, the Knights were led by junior Alexus Barnes, who achieved career-bests in points per game (10.0), rebounds per game (4.9), and assists per game (2.6). Jamilla Gambee, another four-year senior, also had a phenomenal year in which she scored 8.6 points per game and had 2.6 steals per game. Junior transfer Bryndie Ballam was a welcome addition to the team this year scoring almost seven points a game, while point guard Cory Stout dished out 3.8 assists per game, good for fourth in the CAC.
Adrianna Jensen, Shelby Butler, and Jamilla Gambee were the three seniors on the squad this year. 2017-18 was Jensen's first year on the team, while Butler and Gambee were Coach Robert's first four-year players.
"Our seniors will be missed for their loyalty, work ethic, example, and skills," Roberts commented. "The impact of our seniors cannot be measured in how they have helped turn the program around.
The future looks bright for the program as they return a majority of the team for next year, including about 70% of the offense.
"We are excited to build on what we did this season, and we hope that next year we can finish in the top half of the conference and continue to get better."