Women’s basketball preview

The young Owls are preparing to embrace their three-point shooting abilities this season.


Max Jackson

Women’s: Senior Kat Wright is 76 made 3-pointers away from breaking FAU’s all-time record. Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

Christopher Libreros, Contributing Writer

Some say that when one door closes, another door opens. For Florida Atlantic’s women’s basketball team, last year’s 79-74 defeat in the first round of the Conference USA tournament against North Texas closed the door on a potential trip to the NCAA tournament.

This year, that door is open for redemption to the next era of women’s basketball at FAU, as the conference’s best freshman class comes to Boca Raton looking to make an immediate impact on the Owls.

These incoming freshmen include British Columbia All-Star and District MVP Jacey Bailey, sectional champions in Indiana at Noblesville High School, Alexis Shannon and Katelyn O’Reilly, and Julia Jenike and Tyana Robinson, both of whom are members of the 1,000-point club in their respective schools.

All are ready to help contribute to the team alongside Vashnie Perry, a player who led her high school in Norcross, Georgia, to one of the top five teams in the state with a 77-16 overall record.

“I’m going to bring as much as I can to make us great,” Perry said. “I want to leave this school with a name … I want FAU to know that the women’s basketball team is not boring … We’re going to have a name at the end of the day.”

The all-state first teamer and member of the 1,000-point club was highly recruited for her defensive intensity. However, Perry believes her talents stretch beyond the defensive side of the floor and she wants to impact the offensive side of the ball as well.

Her teammates — including the veteran leader of this year’s team, senior forward Kat Wright — want Perry to be aggressive as well.

“[Perry] is in my opinion, unguardable,” Wright said, noting her belief in the rookie to act as the team’s floor general. “She’s so quick and she brings a new aspect to the defensive side of things which is something we need.”

Wright is looking to prove herself as well. Last year, she was the team’s second leading scorer at 11.7 points per game as she entered rarified air with 87 three-point makes in a season, the second most in team history.

Moving into position as one of the team’s primary scorers, Wright is only 76 3-pointers away from breaking the all-time career record this year. She is embracing her role as the team’s lone senior as she takes over as the veteran leader of the Owls this year following the departures of Ali Gorrell and Morgan Robinson.

“I’ve kind of been in this position for a while now … I think the biggest thing is just that I had to learn a lot,” Wright said. “That’s a really long process, trying to figure out how to get everyone on the same page and get everyone to want to win as much as I do. But I will say that it’s pretty easy with this team. I think you see a lot of team chemistry with these girls.”

To Wright, the most fulfilling thing to accomplish in her last year, aside from what happens on the court, is leaving a lasting impact on the younger players.

“They’re the future of this program after I’m gone,” Wright said.

Head coach Kellie Lewis-Jay hopes that future is predicated on defense.

Last year, the Owls gave up 70.5 points per game, the third worst in the conference. This year, Lewis-Jay wants this team to go from the bottom five to the top five.

“We’ve been working on extending our ball pressure, becoming more of a full court team again defensively,” she said. “Defense is a team thing, and understanding where everybody is supposed to be, hoping that everybody is going to be there, trusting that everybody’s going to be there is big, so we’ve been working on that a lot.”

As a team that just barely missed being one of the top 10 three-point shooting teams in the nation after setting a new conference record with 294 made 3-pointers, FAU’s offense plans to further embrace its identity by building its offense as a three-point shooting team.

”That’s what we’re good at, that’s what our offense is based around, and I think we’re a better three-point shooting team this year than we were last year,” Lewis-Jay said.

However, the coach believes this team is still capable of more.

Lewis-Jay challenged her post players to become inside threats this year as defenses will look to take away the three.

“They should have a lot of open looks down low for one-on-one situations and that’s something we’ve really been working on,” Lewis-Jay said.

When combined with some of the acquired freshmen being capable of slashing toward the basket, she believes this team is well versed.

“I think we’re more versatile than we were last year in some aspects and a better student team,” said the coach.

No matter what outsiders may say, this group believes it is capable of greatness.

“I love this group. They make me feel so comfortable, every single day,” Perry said. “I think we can go farther than whatever we think we can go … I think we can go to NCAA tournament and make great things happen.”

The Owls quest for the tournament bid begins when they host Florida Memorial on Friday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m.

Key Departures:

Alison Gorrell: The Colorado native led the team in points, rebounds, assists and steals a season ago. In the team’s final game of the season, she matched her career-high 30 points in only 20 minutes of work during the second half of a losing effort in the Conference USA tournament.

Morgan Robinson: This Northern Florida talent was a model of reliability, missing only one game out of 119 in her collegiate career. Last year, she averaged double figures for the lady Owls, scoring 10.2 points per game.

Who to keep an eye on:

Kat Wright: Last year, the senior guard took a massive leap with her increase in playing time, doubling her scoring and rebounding averages from her sophomore year and setting the single-season record for made 3-pointers in school history.

This includes her Jan. 30 performance against Charlotte when Wright set a career high with 33 points on 11 made 3-pointers, the second most in NCAA history. Look for her increased role in the offense this year to potentially set up another leap in her game.

Sasha Cedeno: The junior forward is another three-point threat with deadly accuracy from behind the arc. Last year, Cedeno shot 44.2 percent from deep, the second highest in school history. In her Feb. 4 performance against Middle Tennessee, Cedeno shot a perfect 5-for-5 from downtown, setting the record for single-game three-point percentage at FAU.

Raven Doyle: Although Doyle averaged only 3.6 points per game in her sophomore season last year, the redshirt junior led the team in scoring in FAU’s three preseason games in Canada. Doyle will look to continue making the most with her increase in minutes, setting up a potentially breakout junior year in a very similar vein to Wright.


Nov. 11 vs. Florida Memorial

Nov. 14 vs. Indiana State

Nov. 18 at Mercer

Nov. 20 at North Florida

Nov. 25 vs. Jacksonville State (FAU Thanksgiving Tournament)

Nov. 26 vs. Richmond/Florida A&M (FAU Thanksgiving Tournament)

Dec. 1 at Arizona

Dec. 4 at Grand Canyon

Dec. 11 vs. Florida Gulf Coast

Dec. 16 vs. Jackson State (FAU Holiday Tournament)

Dec. 17 vs. Maryland Eastern Shore/St. Francis (FAU Holiday Tournament)

Dec. 30 at Western Kentucky

Jan. 1 at Marshall

Jan. 7 at Florida International

Jan. 12 vs. Texas – San Antonio

Jan. 14 vs. Texas – El Paso

Jan. 19 at Alabama – Birmingham

Jan. 21 at Middle Tennessee

Jan. 26 vs. Florida International

Feb. 2 vs. Charlotte

Feb. 4 vs. Old Dominion

Feb. 9 at North Texas

Feb. 11 at Rice

Feb. 16 vs. Louisiana Tech

Feb. 18 vs. Southern Miss

Feb. 23 at Texas – El Paso

Feb. 25 at Texas – San Antonio

March 2 vs. Alabama – Birmingham

March 4 vs. Middle Tennessee

Christopher Libreros is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him at @ChrisIsAirborne.