After an early exit in the quarterfinals of last season’s Peach Belt conference tournament, head coach John Haskins is ready to set sail on a season that will hopefully result in a lengthy playoff run.
Even though Haskins lost the team’s top three scorers from a season ago to graduation in Jonissa Monley, Brianna Baham and Jasmine Huntley, he is still able to rely on the veteran presence, experience and leadership from a pair of seniors in Nyla Allen and Ebone Stevens. Both finished as two of the team’s top five leaders in scoring last season.
Allen is the leading scorer among the returning Lady Braves after racking up 204 points last year, and will likely be a focal point in the team’s offensive attack as they look toward their season opening game on Nov. 11 at Lumbee Guaranty Bank Court against Fayetteville State.
Allen also finished last year second in defensive (132) and total rebounds (165) so she will also prove to be a force in the paint as well as from the field on offense.
Junior guard Avery Locklear leads all returners in steals with 14. She also put up 137 points of her own.
Stevens, who finished as the fifth leading scorer last year with 152 points, also lead the team in 3-point field goal shooting percentage (.394%) among players with at least 40 attempts.
The Braves boasted an impressive home record last season of 11-2 , and are looking forward to continuing that home court dominance when they take on the Broncos in the season opener.
However, if UNCP wishes to improve their placement in the Peach Belt Conference tournament they will have to play better on the road than they did last season after posting a record of 4-10 away from Pembroke.
The Braves will have an opportunity to build some early season momentum with a pair of home games sprinkled in their first stretch of the season after having to hit the road for the first four games of the season last year.
With a roster turnover of only 50 percent, this year’s team will need those former reserve players as well as some of their newcomers to become reliable contributors.