BY ALENA SCHUCKMANN, STAFF WRITER
The Bellarmine women’s basketball team hopes the addition of some powerful players and the return of an injured star will help them improve in the 2015-2016 season.
After finishing fourth in the Great Lakes Valley Conference’s Eastern division in 2014-15 with an overall 14-13 record, and a 9-9 conference record, one of Bellarmine’s goals is to finish above .500 in the GLVC.
“We need to keep working hard everyday in practice and improving on our turnover ratio and keeping our opponent off the free throw line,” Coach Chancellor Dugan said.
The Knights lost one of their main offensive players, Sarah Galvin,to an ACL injury in 2014. In the 2013-2014 season, Galvin led the team in scoring with12.7 points per game.
Dugan said the loss of Galvin really hampered the Knight’s ability to battle in the post.
“Our team last year overcame so much without our leading scorer, Sarah Galvin, (ACL), our starting post was 5-feet-9 inches and although she did a great job it was tough for us to ask her to guard 6 foot 2 inch players and win every time,” Dugan said. “We are bigger this season with Sarah back in the lineup.”
Dugan said that Galvin’s height would make a big impact. She said she is also excited about some tall newcomers to help Galvin on the post and to help the Knights by attacking in different ways.
“We are bigger this season with Sarah back in the lineup and the addition of Ally Mayhouse, 6 feet 2 inches, and Liza Tibbs, 6 feet 3 inches. We like that we can have a few different lineups that we can go with this season, and that is very exciting,” Dugan said.
Bellarmine also added Brooke Valentine, a 5-foot-11 inch forward, to the team.
Valentine was a former standout at Jeffersonville High School, where she led them to a Class 4A state title her senior year. She played one season for the University of Southern Indiana in 2011-2012 and averaged 6.3 points per game.
Guard play often determines a team’s success, and Dugan said she is confident that her players have grown after a year of experience.
“Our guard play in much improved a lot due to they are a year older and have been through the conference and know what to expect,” Dugan said.
In 2014-2015, the GLVC named sophomore guard Raven Merriweather co-Freshman of the Year after she led the team in scoring with 9.8 points per game and was second in rebounding.
Dugan said she expected Merriweather to continue her impressive play and lead them to the GLVC Tournament in 2014-15.
Last season, junior guard Whitney Hartlage made a big impact as a transfer student. Both she and junior Destony Curry were second on the team in scoring with 9.7 points per game.
“Our juniors and seniors are definitely looking to put the team on their backs and lead to many great victories,” Curry said.
Senior guard Mariah Gador was also a powerful player on last year’s team.
Gador led the team in free throw shooting at 85.7 percent. Gador said that for Bellarmine to make some noise in the GLVC, consistency is key.
“Our goal is to come out every practice and every game ready to go and really prove something to ourselves,” Gador said. “We definitely have the talent to go far so if we start strong, then we need to keep that momentum throughout the whole season.”
Curry said the Knights will bring an underdog’s mentality to each game they play this season.
“Every team we play is a challenge, but we are not threatened by anyone,” Curry said. “We think we are the underdogs because of the way our season went last year, so we feel like we have something to prove to everyone.”
The Knights will kick off their season against Bluefield State College on Nov. 15 at Knights Hall.
Bellarmine will begin conference play against the University of Illinois-Springfield on Dec. 3 at Knights Hall.
Two games to watch for include the GLVC’s two division champions from 2014-15, Lewis and Drury. The Knights play both games on the road. Bellarmine will take on Lewis Jan. 23 and will battle Drury on Feb. 6.