Women’s Basketball Season Preview: Rust Lady Bearcats
By GCAC Sports Information Director
HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. –
2019 Record: 24-6 (12-2 GCAC)
2019 Finish: Second Place (Lost GCAC Semifinals / #6 Seed in NAIA Tournament)
Head Coach: Eric Jackson Jr. (Fourth Season / 44-16 Overall, 17-11 GCAC) *
* Records since joining GCAC in 2018
· Katie Blackmon (Jr, C, Olive Branch, Miss.)
· Shay Johnson (Jr, G, Byhalia, Miss.)
· Tiamya Butler (R-Sr, G, Atlanta, Ga.)
Key Players Lost:
· Keimeshia Walker (GCAC Player of the Year / All-GCAC First Team / GCAC All-Defensive Team / top-15 in NAIA in points per game / fifth in GCAC in free throw percentage and three-pointers per game / sixth in GCAC in points scored and steals per game / seventh in GCAC in three-pointers and steals / eighth in GCAC in field-goal percentage / ninth in GCAC in three-point field-goal percentage)
· Ebony Hargrove (Third in GCAC in blocks / top-20 in GCAC in three-pointers)
· Andria Carter (4.1 points per game / 3.5 rebounds per game / 31 assists / 19 steals / .388 field-goal percentage)
· Tekeria Newson (Jr, F, Coldwater, Miss.)
· Kynadra Lewis (Jr, G, Selma, Ala.)
· Maddie Riley (Jr, C, Jackson, Miss.)
The Rust College women’s basketball program is coming off its first ever NAIA Tournament appearance after competing in the NCAA’s Division III through the 2017 season.
Coach Jackson has overseen the transition, inheriting a 1-24 squad and guiding them to three consecutive winning seasons, culminating in a tournament berth and a GCAC Coach of the Year Award.
The Lady Bearcats were sixth in the nation with a .341 field-goal percentage allowed, top-15 for three-point field-goal percentage allowed (.273) and rebound margin (7.03) plus a top-20 mark for points allowed per game (60.17), defensive rebounds per game (28.90), blocks per game (3.80) and total blocks (114).
Despite losing last year’s GCAC Player of the Year, Rust brings back a boatload of talent including redshirt senior Tiamya Butler plus juniors Katie Blackmon and Shay Johnson.
Blackmon landed on the All-GCAC Second Team and GCAC All-Defensive Team as she was fourth in the NAIA for rebounds per game (12.23), fifth in rebounds (367) and defensive rebounds per game (7.67), seventh for double-doubles (18) and tenth for offensive boards per contest (4.57).
Johnson joined the Lady Bearcats over winter break last year and still made the All-GCAC Second Team, ranking sixth in the conference with 93 assists in just 19 games.
Butler finished 2019-20 with the league’s fifth-most assists (101), sixth-highest assists per game average (3.74), ninth-best free throw percentage (.693) and a top-20 ranking for both steals per game (1.52) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.88).
RC’s new faces will consist of eight community college transfers, two NCAA transfers (Western Carolina and Francis Marion) plus one incoming freshman.
Tekeria Newson averaged 14.6 points, 6.3 boards, 1.3 assists and 1.1 steals per night for Northeast Mississippi Community College with a .389 field-goal percentage.
Kynadra Lewis comes over from Coastal Alabama-South where she logged 9.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.9 steals a contest while draining 39.3 percent from the floor.
Maddie Riley, a transfer from East Mississippi Community College, contributed 8.1 rebounds and 5.7 points as well as 23 steals, 18 assists and connected on exactly half of her field goal attempts.
The blue and grey’s non-conference schedule includes Crowley’s Ridge, Oakwood, Stillman, Freed-Hardeman and Mississippi University for Women.
The women’s basketball previews will continue tomorrow with the Talladega Lady Tornadoes.