Like their men counterparts, Oakland City University basketball women will make their public debut Tuesday. They'll visit Eastern Illinois University in Charleston for a 6 p.m. game that is exhibition for them and a counting game for the Lady Panthers, 86-82 exhibition winners Thursday over visiting Illinois Wesleyan in Lantz Arena.
Unlike the Mighty Oaks, who will face a team that won 19 games last season including 12 in the Ohio Valley Conference, the Lady Oaks will face a team that posted records of 3-26 overall and 2-16 in the OVC. But the Lady Panthers are used to winning early-on, having won two exhibitions a year ago, one over Indiana State. And their first regular-season win came over Evansville.
OCU women, in Coach Shayne Ross' third season, expect to field a full roster Tuesday, including 6-foot freshman forward and Wood Memorial grad Lexi Lashbrook, and 5-6 freshman guard and Princeton Community grad Kiare Young. Though Lashbrook and Young are part of the Lady Oaks volleyball team that has secured a berth in November 16-17 National Christian College Athletic Association Mid-East Regional play, they were in basketball practice Monday afternoon and will suit up Tuesday.
It'll be the first of two exhibitions for the Lady Oaks, the second scheduled at 7 p.m. Saturday at OVC Murray State. They'll make their official debut in the November 16-17 Asbury Classic in Wilmore, Ky.
They regroup without 2018 grads Alicia Wilson, who at point-guard averaged 18.9 points, 4.7 assists and 4.6 rebounds last season; and 6-2 center Emily Pitkin, a defensive force who averaged 8.3 rebounds and 3.5 shot-blocks to go with 5.9 points.
They expect to rely all season on 5-10 senior guard and former Jasper star Maddie Ubelhor, a consistent double-figure scorer in 2016-17 but limited to four games last season by a foot injury that required surgery. The lefthanded Ubelhor averaged 10 points in those four games. As a full-timer she'll rejoin 5-9 senior forward Aricka Prentice (10 points, 6.3 rebounds), 6-0 sophomore forward and Henderson County (Ky.) grad Emma Lander (10.8 points, 4.9 rebounds), 5-7 senior guard Sarah Duzinski (6.9 points, 3.5 rebounds), and 6-1 sophomore forward Xerena Tompkins (2.5 points, 2.8 boards in 10 games).
Lashbrook, who started on Wood Memorial's 2017 Class A state champions; and Young, who scored over 1,000 Princeton points in a four-year varsity career that included the 2015 Class 3A state championship led by sister Jackie, are among four freshmen. Their classmates include 6-0 forward Julyen Copndra of New Albany and 5-8 guard Reanne Kietlinski. Also, 5-10 junior forward Shannon Pittman will make her OCU debut after transferring from Earlham.
Eastern Illinois is led by 5-4 senior guard Grace Lennox, 5-11 sophomore guard Grace McRae and 5-8 sophomore guard Kate Pace. Lennox is within five points of 1,000 in her career, and within 100 assists of 500. She scored 22 vs. Illinois Wesleyan. McRae earned All-Ohio Valley honor by averaging 15.4 points, 4.9 assists and 3.4 rebounds in 2016-17, before missing last season due to injury. Pace averaged 12.5 points a year ago.
The Lady Panthers also include 5-10 redshirt senior Jalisha Smith, author of three double-doubles; and 6-1 freshman Abby Wahl, who averaged 20.2 points and 8.9 rebounds for Heritage Hills last winter.