DEFIANCE, OHIO - The Defiance College women's basketball team will look to a balanced squad in 2017-18 under the guidance of sixth year head coach, Jessica (Cox) Morris.
The Yellow Jackets finished with a 13-13 overall record last season and a 10-8 mark in Heartland Collegiate Conference play. Defiance returns six letter winners and two starters from a year ago, including senior point guard Whitney Schalk (Bellevue) and senior guard Mekai White (Cincinnati/Winton Woods).
"I am extremely excited to see our returners step up into new roles this season," said head coach Jessica (Cox) Morris. "And I couldn't be more thrilled to add in our newcomers to our returning roster. The intensity at which this team plays is fun to watch, and we look forward to what this season will bring."
Here is a breakdown of the 2017-18 women's basketball team, by position:
Defiance will look to top returners, Schalk and shooting guard White to pilot the offense this season.
Schalk appeared in 24 games at point guard making three starts for the Yellow Jackets in 2016-17. The senior averaged 22.0 minutes per game, dishing out a team leading 4.0 assists per contest. She finished the season averaging 2.1 rebounds and 3.0 points per game. Schalk enters her senior campaign with 329 total assists, ranking her sixth all-time.
White returns after a strong junior campaign, appearing in all 26 games with 23 starts for DC. The senior finished second on the team in points averaging 9.5 per contest, while shooting 36.1 percent (86-of-238) from the field and 37 percent (67-of-181) from behind the arc. White also averaged 3.2 rebounds per contest, while dishing out 1.1 assists for the Yellow Jackets.
In addition, Defiance will look to sophomore returner Shelby Stamm (Bellevue) and junior transfer Ashley Lee (Millington, Mich.). Stamm appeared in 26 games averaging 14.9 minutes per contest during the 2015-16 campaign. She finished her freshman season averaging 2.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. Lee, comes to Defiance after spending two seasons as a member of the Delta College women's basketball program. The Millington, Mich. native, played in 27 games for Delta last season. The junior averaged 7.1 points per game, while grabbing 4.4 boards per contest. She was named Second Team All-Conference and earned Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Defiance freshman Kalyn Pickens (Fort Wayne, Ind./Snider) will also look to compete for minutes at the guard position.
"We begin this season with a lot of experience in our guards, both returning and new," added Morris. "There will be a shift in our focus as to what we're looking for and ways in which we will be scoring, and it's built for exactly who we are. I look forward to what we'll be able to accomplish."
With graduating the 2016-2017 HCAC Player-of-the-Year in Kelsey Tietje, Defiance will look to returners senior Brittany Osborne (Union City, Ind.) and junior Sam Ervin (Bloomdale/Elmwood) to fill the void in the paint.
"To say that things will be different this year with our inside game would be an understatement," said Morris. "Our mobility and outside range of our posts has changed immensely. We are looking at a lot of different ways of scoring by using the strengths we have with our posts, and we look forward to how successful we can be with our new and different strengths."
The Purple and Gold will also rely on newcomers, freshman Cassidy Yant (Churubusco, Ind.) and junior transfers, Lauren Rogers (Munger, Mich./Bay City Central) to provide depth at the forward position.
Ervin, who saw action in 26 games last season, will hope to have a much greater impact in 2017-18. The senior averaged 6.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest off the bench for the Yellow Jackets. She finished the season shooting 45.5 percent (55-of-121) from the field, including 71.4 percent (45-of-63) from the free throw line.
Osborne also came off the bench for Defiance appearing in nine games, averaging 14.8 minutes per contest before suffering a season ending injury. The Union City native finished her junior season with 24 rebounds, averaging 2.7 per game to go with her 10 assists and three steals.
Rogers also comes to DC after spending two seasons at Delta College as a member of the women's basketball program. Rogers was a Second Team All-Conference selection and earned All-Freshman Team honors for the Pioneers. She appeared in 26 games as a sophomore, averaging 12.8 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per contest. The junior finished the 2016-17 season shooting 39.3 percent (126-321) from the field, including 37.8 percent (17-45) from behind the arc.
The Yellow Jackets open the 2017-18 campaign on Nov. 15 as they travel to Angola, Ind. to face non-conference foe Trine.
After opening the season with Trine, the Purple and Gold travel to Albion, Mich. on Nov. 18 before returning to the Karl H. Weaner Center on Nov. 21 for its home-opener with Ohio Northern. Defiance closes out the early portion of its non-conference schedule at Ohio Wesleyan on Nov. 28.
The 2017-18 schedule will also feature match-ups with Siena Heights on Dec. 18, Alma, Mich. on Dec. 19 and Adrian, Mich. on Dec. 30.
A game at Rose-Hulman on Dec. 2 will begin the 18-game, double round-robin Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference schedule for the Yellow Jackets.
The HCAC Tournament is slated to begin Tuesday, Feb. 20 with the Championship game to be held Saturday Feb. 24.