Women’s basketball: The last season of Kellie Lewis-Jay

A 19 game losing streak highlighted the team’s 2016-17 season.


Photo by Adriana Laplanche

Hans Belot Jr., Sports Editor

“We just want to get better”

Former FAU women’s basketball coach Kellie Lewis-Jay repeated after the Owls lost their ninth straight game. She said it again two days later after their 10th straight loss, after their 11th and again after their 12th.

At the time, the Owls were two losses away from breaking FAU’s all-time record for most consecutive losses in a season, a feat that was set in the 2006-07 season. A week later, FAU broke the record after an 89-55 loss to Rice.

Where did it all go wrong for Lewis-Jay? We take a look at where the downfall of the former head coach began that led to her firing.


2016 offseason: Owls begin rebuild

After its 2015-16 season ended with a 14-16 record and a loss to North Texas in the Conference USA tournament, FAU entered a rebuilding mode when it lost two of its three leading scorers to graduation. Ali Gorell, who led the pack of the outgoing seniors, averaged 15.1 points per game in her last year.

That forced the Owls to welcome seven new players to their roster, which had just one senior. The average age of FAU’s players became 19.2, the youngest roster in Conference USA coming into the season.

Lewis-Jay understood the team’s youth was going to be a difficult task.

“With the system we run, it can be challenging because it takes a year to pick up the system and to figure it out,” Lewis-Jay told FAU Athletics in the Conference USA preseason media tip off about the age of her team. “Although I think with having that foreign trip we were able to move a season ahead in a sense with these guys. It’s exciting to think of how far along they are progressing even though it is pretty early in the year for us.”


Nov. 11, 2016: Mercer ends undefeated start

Despite the team’s age, FAU started the season off 2-0, defeating Florida Memorial by 20 and squeaking by Indiana State by three. However, Mercer put an end to the Owls’ dream start with a 74-57 win.

The Bears outscored FAU 20-7 in the fourth period and forced the young team into 22 turnovers, seven of which were in the last period.

Photo by Mohammed F. Emran

Dec. 16, 2016: Last win of the season

It came sooner than most people expected, but Dec. 16 became the last day FAU walked off the court as winners after defeating Jackson State 67-58 at FAU Arena.

FAU held Jackson State to just 31 percent shooting, and shared the ball well offensively, finishing with 15 assists on the night.

However, Lewis-Jay knew their 22 turnovers would be a problem moving forward.

“Like I told them in the locker room, ‘I’m not going to sit here and lie to you, and not tell you the things we have to improve on … it’s just going to get harder and we have to clean up those things,’” Lewis-Jay said after the game.


Feb. 2, 2017: Losing streak hits double digits

FAU’s losing streak reached 10 after a 72-66 home loss versus Charlotte, and the odds of setting the record for the most consecutive losses began to seem more and more likely.

“We just got to keep working, got to keep getting better and practice everyday,” Lewis-Jay said.


A season to forget


Feb. 11, 2017: FAU makes history

It’s not exactly the kind of history they wanted to make, but the Owls managed to stamp their names in the record books, setting a new program record of 13 losses in row after falling to Rice 89-55 in Houston.

The young group continued to make mistakes, giving the ball away 20 times. FAU trailed by 24 points at halftime, and lost by 34, its worst defeat of the losing streak.


Feb. 16, 2017: Kellie Lewis-Jay cuts ties with the media, refuses post-game interviews

A week after breaking the record, the University Press was informed by Media Relations that Lewis-Jay may refuse postgame interviews because “of the articles that were written about the streak.”

After a 76-52 loss to Louisiana Tech, the University Press’ request for postgame comments were turned down. The UP was told that the “coach was not in the mood to talk after the game.”

She refused to talk after any of the following three home games, before the season came to a close.


March 6, 2017: FAU bids Kellie Lewis-Jay goodbye

Two days after FAU’s season-ending 71-59 home loss to Middle Tennessee, FAU announced it was cutting its ties with Lewis-Jay after the Owls finished 4-25 and 0-18 in Conference USA.

Lewis-Jay’s tenure ended with a 73-103 record over five years and the team under her watch failed to reach a conference tournament just once.


Hans Belot Jr. is the sports editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him at @Don_Phenom_.