Top Sports Stories of 2012-13: Women's basketball makes presence known at NAIA Div. I level

Ravens earn first trip to Div. I National Tournament, finish inside Top 25 Coaches' Poll

  • Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The 2012-'13 Raven women's basketball season ranks among some of the best in program history.

For the third time, but only the first time at the NAIA Div. I level, head coach Chad Folsom guided the program into the national tournament playing into the second round.

Along the way, the Ravens went 28-6 overall and 16-2 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) finishing second behind MNU.

In the end however, the Ravens were the last team standing of three national qualifiers as they fell to Cumberland (Tenn.) in the second round in Frankfort, Ky.

The Ravens 28 wins stands as the third most in program history, tied with the 1997-'98 team that went 28-7 en route to qualifying for the NAIA Div. II tournament. The 16-2 mark in the HAAC also matched one of the best conference finishes in program history as the finish matched the first-place HAAC finish of the 1997-'98 team.

Before their run into the national tournament started, the regular season was full of story lines.

After going 2-1 over their first three games of the season, the Ravens rattled off nine straight wins from Nov. 9 through Dec. 1. That nine-game winning streak matches the fourth-longest in program history matching the streak by 1997-'98 program.

For most teams, one nine-game winning streak would make for a memorable season. For Benedictine, the "2012 streak" was just the first. From Jan. 10 through Feb. 7, the Ravens rattled off another nine-game streak to push their record 22-3.

The first winning streak pushed the Ravens onto the national radar where they earned their first-ever NAIA Div. I national ranking when they appeared at No. 22 on Dec. 12. The second streak pushed them closer to the top 10 of NAIA Div. I as they jumped to as high as No. 13.

The program finished the regular season at No. 11 and held on to that spot after their tournament run. The No. 11 finish ranks as the second-highest national ranking by the Ravens in program history, behind the No. 10 finish of the 1997-'98 season.

Statistically, the 2012-'13 Ravens were among the nation's best. They finished fourth in total assists with 564, sixth in assists per game at 16.6, eighth in total 3-pointers with 227 and were ninth in assist to turnover ratio at 0.97.

A team is only as good as it parts and the Ravens had several players recognized for their efforts this season by the HAAC and the NAIA.

Guard Justice Payne (Jr., Stillwater, Okla.) was named first-team All-HAAC while guard Kesley Anselmi (Sr,. Olathe) was named to the second team.

Payne knocked in 91 3-pointers in her first season with Benedictine, finishing fourth in the NAIA. Anselmi's 190 assists ranked her fifth in the NAIA and placed her first in program history in single-season assists.

Additionally, post Liz Stinson (Sr., Stillwel) and forward Erin Murphy (Sr., Olathe) earned honorable mention All-HAAC honors.

Payne was also named a NAIA All-America selection while Stinson and guard Tori Aubuchon (Jr., Festus, Mo.) earned Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athlete honors for their efforts on the court and in the class room.

With the addition of a strong five-member recruiting class for the 2013-'14 season, the Raven women's basketball team looks poised to keep a foot-hold in NAIA Div. I women's basketball headed into the future.