ONU women's basketball continues to impress with high-scoring, fast-break play
Scoring in the triple digits has become the norm for the Olivet Nazarene University (ONU) women's basketball team.
Through Jan. 20 this season, according to the official NAIA Division II statistics on www.dakstats.com, the Tigers were averaging 110.38 points per game, which led all teams in Division II. The second-place team, Antelope Valley, was nearly 20 points per game behind that pace at 91.31 a contest.
Should their placing hold through the end of the season, the Tigers will have led Division II in scoring for 11 straight seasons and 12 of the last 13 campaigns. In each of the last 10 seasons, ONU averaged more than 100 points a game. In the first 21 games this season, the Tigers scored at least 100 points 15 times, and their record in that span was 15-6 overall and 9-3 in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
An onslaught of pace and long-range shooting has been leading the Tigers' attack, ONU Head Coach Lauren Stamatis said.
“A large part of the scoring has to do with the tempo of our game and the system that we play,” she told the Kankakee Times. “Three-point shooting does play a part in that, but even more so is that we are trying to shoot the ball within the first 10-12 seconds of the shot clock, and we also play a full-court, aggressive trapping defense.”
The Tigers led Division II in average three-pointers made per game with 14.29 through Jan. 20, which was more than two per game more than the next-closest team. They also topped their division with 18.86 steals per game.
Additionally, according to statistics supplied by Stamatis, the Tigers have had a positive turnover differential each game since the 2004-05 season, with that advantage usually being in double digits. In the first 19 games of the season, the Tigers had scored 663 points off turnovers, accounting for almost 33 percent of their total points at that time.
“When we play a number of teams that like to hold the ball on offense against us, our tempo is slower,” Stamatis said. “The same is true on the defensive end. When we tend force more turnovers, allow teams to score, or force teams to shoot the ball quicker we’re able to get more offensive possessions per game.”
Individually for ONU, sophomore Jess Learned was tied for 16th in Division II at 17.8 points per game, and junior Maggie Schmidt was tied for 23rd at 17.33.
Steals and three-pointers are aspects of the game that Stamatis was familiar with in her collegiate playing days at the University of Redlands (California). According to the women's basketball records section on the school's athletic website, she is fifth all-time in career three-pointers made with 111 and 10th in steals with 141.
Fast-paced basketball is something Stamatis said she appreciates.
“While I did not play run-and-gun basketball in college, I’ve always enjoyed fast-break basketball and the freedom it gives players to make decisions using their basketball instincts,” she said.