Column: Breaking down OVC as season nears

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

There is now just a week to go before the start of the 2020-21 basketball season.

The Eastern women’s basketball team will open the season at home against UIC at noon. It will be a little while longer before conference play begins on Dec. 18, but let’s take a look at the rest of the OVC as the season nears.

This will be the first part of a two-part series and will focus on the top half of the conference according to last season’s standings.

 

Tennessee-Martin

The Skyhawks finished the regular season in first place in the conference last season with a 16-2 conference record before losing to Southeast Missouri in the finals of the OVC Tournament.

They are the preseason favorite to win the conference, due in large part to the return of Chelsey Perry for her senior season.

Perry was the OVC Player of the Year last season and is on some preseason watch lists for national awards. She averaged 23.1 points per game last year and the Tennessee-Martin offense was second in the conference in scoring, averaging 70.8 points per game.

 

Belmont

The Bruins were also 16-2 in conference play last season and finished second in the standings.

Defense is what fueled Belmont’s success, as they led the conference allowing only 58.6 points per game.

On the strength of their defense, Belmont finished third in the conference in scoring margin at +5.9 points per game.

The Bruins have a void to fill on offense having lost their leading scorer Ellie Harmeyer, who finished third in the conference last season with 19.2 points per game.

Belmont had no other player average double figures in scoring last season.

 

Southeast Missouri

The winners of the OVC Tournament last season, the Redhawks finished third in the standings with a 14-4 conference record and also led the OVC in offense, averaging 74.5 points per game.

They also led the conference in scoring margin, outscoring opponents by an average of 10.6 per game.

Last season, they had both Tesia Thompson and Carrie Shephard finish second and fourth in the conference in scoring respectively. They were the only team in the OVC to have two players in the top-5 in scoring.

Shephard has since graduated, but Thompson will be returning. 

 

Jacksonville State

Eastern finished fourth in the OVC last season, just ahead of Jacksonville State. The Gamecocks had a conference record of 10-8. They were beaten by Eastern in the OVC Tournament.

The Gamecock’s defense is what carried them last season. They were ninth in the OVC in scoring (60.6 points per game), but they allowed just 60.5 points per game on defense.

They lost their leading scorer in Destiney Elliott, who was ninth in the OVC in scoring last season, but will be returning their second leading scorer in Taylor Hawks.

Hawks finished 15th in the conference in scoring averaging 11.2 points per game.

 

Tennessee Tech

Last season’s sixth-place finishers, Tennessee Tech enters this season with a strong senior class leading the way. The Golden Eagle’s top three scorers will all be returning for their senior seasons.

Led by Kesha Brady (14.4 points per game), Mackenzie Coleman (12 points per game) and Jordan Brock (10.1 points per game), Tennessee Tech will look to build on an offense that finished third in the OVC in scoring last season, averaging 69.8 points per game.

The Golden Eagles had the fourth-best scoring margin in the OVC last season.

 

Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]