2018-19 Season: Personnel News

Wake Forest

October 2, 2018: Senior guard Ariel Stephenson recently underwent shoulder surgery and will miss the upcoming season as a result. She had averaged 8.9 PPG in the 2017-18 season (fourth-best on the team), playing in 27 games and starting 22.

In August, two other returning players, Destini Walker and Kortni Simmons, were medically disqualified, ending their Wake Forest careers.

Wake Forest women’s basketball head coach Jen Hoover announced Tuesday (Oct. 2) that senior Ariel Stephenson will miss the upcoming season after undergoing successful shoulder surgery last week.

“While we are disappointed that Ariel will be unable to play for us this season, we are encouraged that the surgery was successful and that she can make a full recovery,” said Hoover. “We look forward to her supporting the team this season and can’t wait to have her back for the 2019-20 season.”

January 13, 2019: Junior wing Alex Sharp, the team’s #2 scorer (12.7 PPG), has suffered a broken hand and will be out four to six weeks.

The Demon Deacons were playing their second straight game without 6-foot-1 guard Alex Sharp, their second leading scorer at 12.7 points per game. Sharp broke her right hand during practice in between the Deacons’ losses to Miami (72-57) and Boston College (65-64) and will miss four to six weeks.

January 20, 2019: In their latest game, the Demon Deacons were without their top two scorers. In addition to Alex Sharp‘s continued absence, senior forward Elisa Penna (#1 scorer at 15.3 PPG) was out with a knee injury suffered during practice the day before.

The Deacons were without their two leading scorers — senior forward Elisa Penna (15.3 points per game) didn’t play because of a knee injury suffered Saturday, and junior guard Alex Sharp missed her fourth straight game with a broken hand. Penna’s status to return is to be determined, while Sharp won’t return until at least mid-February.

January 27, 2019: Junior forward Tyra Whitehead is no longer listed on the Demon Deacons’ roster. She hadn’t played at all this season. Last season she averaged 7.9 PPG and 5.4 RPG, mainly off the bench.

Also no longer listed is McKenna Frank, who had joined the team as a walk-on prior to the 2018-19 season.

January 30, 2019: Senior forward Elisa Penna, the team’s leading scorer, is now said to be out indefinitely with a knee injury.

That’s a challenge that was issued in part because the Deacons are without their leading scorer, senior forward Elisa Penna (15.3 points per game), and one of their leading rebounders and second-leading scorer, junior guard Alex Sharp (12.7 points, 8.7 rebounds per game). Penna is out indefinitely with a knee injury, while Sharp has missed a couple of weeks with a broken hand.

February 24, 2019: It appears that leading-scorer Elisa Penna is out for the season. Two other players have missed three-straight games, and Raegyn Branch was out with an ankle injury, leaving Wake with just seven available players for today’s game (a loss to Duke).

February 28, 2019: Now confirmed that Elisa Penna‘s season is over, and freshman forward Christina Morra is out for the season as well with a viral illness. In addition, senior guard Ariel Stephenson, who is sitting out this season, may grad-transfer for her final season of eligibility.


September 21, 2018: The Huskies announced the medical retirements of both Natalie Romeo and Deja Strother, marking the end of their UW careers.

University of Washington Head Women’s Basketball Coach Jody Wynn announced a pair of roster changes heading into the 2018-19 season, as Deja Strother and Natalie Romeo will be medically retired, ending their UW careers.

“We are thankful for the contributions both players have made to the program during their time at UW,” said Wynn. “Player well-being is so important to the program and the athletic department. Despite the best efforts of our medical team, Natalie and Deja have been unable to progress to the point where they can re-join the active roster. We are happy to have them remain on scholarship and close to the program in a supportive role this season and wish them all the best as they complete their studies at UW.”

In addition, although there’s been no official announcement on this, sophomore forward Fapou Semebene is not listed on the UW roster for 2018-19. During her freshman season, she played in 25 games, starting eight, while averaging 14.4 MPG and 3 PPG. Whether she simply quit the team or is transferring is unknown. UPDATE (October 10): Seattle Times article indicates that Semebene has withdrawn from school, without any other elaboration. UPDATE (December 3): Semebene is transferring to UC Riverside.

January 25, 2019: Two Huskies are dealing with injuries: T. T. Watkins (concussion) and Alexis Griggsby (undisclosed).

Husky freshman guard T.T. Watkins suffered a concussion during practice this past week and was unavailable Friday night. She will also miss Sunday’s game against Oregon.

Wynn said Husky reserve guard Alexis Griggsby suffered an undisclosed injury late in the game. When Wynn was asked if Griggsby was OK, the coach said no.

January 31, 2019: Both T. T. Watkins and Alexis Griggsby will be back for the Huskies’ games this weekend, according to this article.

West Virginia

November 6, 2018: Freshman center Rochelle Norris will sit out the 2018-19 season with a torn ACL, and the NCAA has not yet ruled on on the transfer waiver request for De’Janae Boykin.

Outside of senior 6-foot-6 center Theresa Ekhelar, the Mountaineers have very little size to speak of, because highly-recruited freshman center Rochelle Norris tore her ACL during preseason practice and will redshirt this season.

. . .

The final addition could be 6-foot-2 forward De’Janae Boykin, a former McDonald’s All-American, who transferred from Penn State and began her career at Connecticut.

West Virginia is working through a waiver process with the NCAA on getting the junior cleared to play this season, but the NCAA has yet to rule on Boykin’s eligibility.

November 6, 2018 (part 2): Sophomore point guard Kyrse Gondrezick missed WVU’s opening game “attending to a personal matter” and apparently from other reports will be out indefinitely. Her absence leaves the Mountaineers with just eight available players.

The Mountaineers were supposed to have nine as they await players to become eligible later in the season, but Michigan transfer Kyrse Gondrezick, a point guard who sat out last year due to NCAA transfer rules, was missing.

A release from the school said the sophomore was away from the team attending to a personal matter but added intrigue to it by adding that “the WVU Athletics Department will have no further comments on the situation.”

Coach Mike Carey, who has had trouble keeping his roster filled almost since he got here, injuries decimating his teams, said this one was on him.

“Some unexpected things happened, but we weren’t ready for it. I blame it on no one but myself. We should have had more players. I promise you this … that will never happen again while I am here. Shane (athletic director Lyons) may not be happy with 18 scholarships, but if that’s what it takes …”

November 15, 2018Kyrse Gondrezick‘s absence ended up lasting just two games, as she made her WVU debut today, scoring 16 points in 28 minutes off the bench in the Mountaineers’ victory.

Redshirt sophomore guard Kysre Gondrezick scored 16 points and five assists and four rebounds in her Mountaineer debut, and senior guard Katrina Pardee chipped in with 15 more, including three 3-pointers.

January 9, 2019: Senior shooting guard Katrina Pardee (13 PPG) suffered an ankle injury in the Mountaineers’ game today, was carried off the floor, and then later returned to the bench on crutches. How long she’ll be out isn’t yet known, but in her absence the team would be left with eight players.

Pardee, who is one of the Mountaineers two main 3-point threats, had 14 points when she was injured. She recently eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for her career. She came back on crutches to watch the final minutes of the game on the Mountaineer bench.

Carey doesn’t know how long he’ll be without her, but with a depleted roster any amount of time is too long.

“If it’s even a high ankle sprain, it’s not good,” Carey said. “We’ll be down to eight players for a while.”

January 10, 2019: Sophomore point guard Kyrse Gondrezick is once again on a leave of absence owing to a “sensitive personal matter.”

January 13, 2019: Update on senior shooting guard Katrina Pardee (13 PPG, 4.9 RPG): she’ll be out three to six weeks following the ankle injury she suffered in the team’s last game.

February 23, 2019: Katrina Pardee was back after a seven-week injury absence, playing 13 minutes off the bench in the Mountaineers’ loss to Oklahoma.

Pardee played 13 minutes off the bench in her first game since spraining an ankle against Oklahoma State on Jan. 9. She had two points on three shots.

“I’ve been trying to ease into it, but it felt good to be back out there,” Pardee said.

February 25, 2019: WVNews now reporting that Kysre Gondrezick will not return to WVU.

Kysre Gondrezick, a talented sophomore guard who was a transfer from Michigan, played in five games early in the season, scoring more than 15 points in three of those, but left the program for personal reasons shortly before Christmas and will not return.

March 21, 2019: The Mountaineers won their WNIT opener but were missing senior center Theresa Ekhelar, indefinitely suspended for a violation of team rules.

The bigger news was the Mountaineers (21-10) played without senior center Theresa Ekhelar, who was indefinitely suspended before the game for a violation of team rules.

“It just happened [Wednesday], so I couldn’t really adjust what we were going to do,” WVU coach Mike Carey said.

March 25, 2019: Theresa Ekhelar filed a lawsuit over her suspension from the team, but a judge denied her request for a restraining order “to force the team to allow her to play in the WNIT.”

The lawsuit claimed Theresa Ekhelar, a center, was being arbitrary punished twice by the athletics department. It ordered Ekhelar serve a one-game suspension, not start a second game and undergo anger management and psychological counseling.

Judge Phillip Gaujot denied the request for a restraining order preventing WVU Athletics from enforcing its suspension until the WVU Student Conduct disciplinary process is completed.

March 27, 2019: Following WVU’s loss to Northwestern in the 3rd round of the WNIT, redshirt junior guard Tynice Martin—the team’s leading scorer (18 PPG)—announced that she plans to return to the Mountaineers for her fifth year in 2019-20.

“It was not weighing heavily on my mind,” she revealed. “I made the decision months ago. When we got to the NIT [and were passed over by the NCAA] I thought this is definitely not how I want to go out.”

Martin could have gone to the professional basketball, but she and Carey spoke and he explained to her that she would benefit from working on her game.

“I knew what had to be done. Losing that year on the court, you could of tell that it set me back. I didn’t get better my sophomore year. Next year will be a different story.”

Western Carolina

January 2, 2019: Freshman forward Kayla Brown returned to the court after missing twelve games with an injury. She tallied four points and four rebounds in the Catamounts’ loss to Gardner-Webb.

Freshman forward Kayla Brown saw action for the first time since Nov. 9, 2018, against Campbell after sitting out 12 games with an injury. She came back with a balanced attack against Gardner-Webb with four points and four rebounds.

February 6, 2019: Junior forward Tess Harris is no longer listed on the team’s roster in their game notes, and she is transferring. She played in 19 games this season, starting 12 and averaging 8.6 PPG in 22.9 MPG.

Western Michigan

November 15, 2018: The Broncos have two players missing the 2018-19 season: sophomore guard Jordan Walker (7.9 PPG in 2017-18) and senior forward Breanna Mobley, the team’s leading scorer (16.3 PPG) and rebounder (8.3 RPG) last season.

While the Broncos were picked to finish last in the MAC West after losing sophomore guard Jordan Walker to an ACL injury and forward Breanna Mobley to a medical redshirt, they will have an opportunity to give themselves some early momentum on Thursday.


September 18, 2018: The NCAA grants Alex Luehring immediate eligibility to play for the Badgers in the 2018-19 season, following her transfer from Green Bay.

Luehring redshirted her freshman season at Green Bay and will have four years of eligibility at UW.

“As a program we’re so excited for Alex to be able to join us completely,” coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “After having a redshirt year I think the ability to be involved in practices and travel with the team and play in the games will be a great benefit to Alex in her transition, as well as beneficial for our team.”

Tsipis said he expects Luehring to compete for regular playing time this season.

November 4, 2018: Several Badgers have been hampered by injuries in the lead-up to the season, including two freshmen: Carmen Backes, out at least four to six weeks and possibly redshirting, and Jasmine Hale, currently out with a broken finger. Also sidelined for the time being is Suzanne Gilreath, who is dealing with a foot injury.

Injuries have derailed a couple other promising freshmen. Carmen Backes, a 6-2 forward, recently underwent a procedure on her knee and will be out at least 4-6 weeks, and Jasmine Hale, a 5-9 guard, broke a finger in practice last week and will be in a cast for three weeks. Hale had been particularly impressive in early practices and was pushing for a starting spot.

Backes, arguably the centerpiece of the class, underwent another procedure in May and suffered a torn ACL in her junior season at Chisago Lakes (Minnesota) High School. Tsipis said her rehab is going well and the ACL is not an issue, but Backes could be a potential redshirt candidate.

November 20, 2018: Junior forward Courtney Fredrickson is out for the season with a knee injury. She had started the first two games of this season, before suffering the injury in the second game. During the 2017-18 season, she ranked fourth on the team in scoring at 8.9 PPG.

Junior forward Courtney Fredrickson, who suffered a knee injury last Tuesday at UW-Milwaukee, will undergo surgery later this month and miss the remainder of the season, Tsipis said. She will be able to redshirt and have two years of eligibility remaining.

November 21, 2018: Freshman center Maia Caito is leaving the program. She’s staying at Wisconsin academically, at least for now. Same article says that Carmen Backes (mentioned above) will “almost certainly” redshirt this season because of the knee injury she suffered.

Tsipis said freshman Maia Caito, a 6-4 post player from Cranston, Rhode Island, is leaving the program. She did not dress for any of the games and was not on the bench for the past two games. She plans to remain in school, Tsipis said.

January 1, 2019: Redshirt sophomore forward Grace Mueller may be out six weeks with a lower leg injury. She had played in nine games this season, starting one and averaging 2.3 PPG in 6.9 MPG.

Redshirt sophomore forward Grace Mueller has been sidelined once again by injury, sustaining a lower leg injury in practice last week. She could be out as long as six weeks. Mueller sat out her freshman season after being plagued by back problems and then missed last season with a torn ACL suffered in preseason.


January 16, 2019: Freshman guard Jackie Carman, second on the team in scoring (13.2 PPG), is out at least indefinitely (if not for the season) with a knee injury. The Terriers were already dealing with injuries to four other players, with two of them definitely out for the season and the other two likely so.

Her absence, at least for the immediate future, is just the latest setback in what has been an extended period of extremely bad luck for the Terriers. Lawren Cook (Greenville/Christ Church) and Anna Claire Atha are out for the season with injuries. So, too, likely, are Elena Pulanco and Alea Harris.


September 26, 2018: Junior forward Selale Kepenc will miss the 2018-19 season “due to an offseason surgery,” per this report. She played in 25 games in 2017-18 off the bench, averaging 3.5 PPG and 1.3 RPG. (Note: It was later reported that the surgery was for a knee injury.)


March 10, 2019: Head coach Brian Neal has resigned after six seasons and a record of 76-108 overall and 28-80 in Big East play.

“Brian took over our team at a challenging time and we have a lot of respect for Brian and his staff in how they ran our program and the stability they brought,” said Greg Christopher, Xavier’s Athletics Director. “Everyone thanks Brian for his efforts and we appreciate his approach to insuring the young women in our program had a positive experience.”

Neal finished his Xavier tenure with a record of 76-108 in six seasons. His Musketeer teams were 28-80 in BIG EAST play and 1-6 in BIG EAST Tournament games. Neal’s all-time career record is 247-139.

“Basketball is important at Xavier. More specifically, Xavier Women’s Basketball has a tradition and history of success. We expect that our Women’s Basketball team can compete for BIG EAST titles and the postseason,” said Christopher.


November 27, 2018: Sophomore forward Ellen Margaret Andrews is out for the season with a knee injury. She started the first five games this season, averaging 5.4 PPG. She averaged 7.4 PPG last season.

But perhaps no loss was as devastating as losing forward Ellen Margaret Andrews ’21, a staff reporter for the News, in the second quarter of the defeat to the Bearcats to an ACL and meniscus tear. Andrews played heavy minutes for the Bulldogs in the first five games of the season as a starter, scoring a season-high 11 points in Yale’s 67–64 win over Niagara (1–5, 0–0 MAAC) on Nov. 17 in the first game of the Preseason WNIT Consolation Round. The season-ending injury came as she was fouled driving to the basket.

Youngstown State

October 18, 2018: With two freshmen, Gabby Lupardus and Taylor Petit, sitting out the 2018-19 season recovering from injuries, the Penguins are left with nine available players, the Tribune Chronicle reports.

Incoming freshmen guard Gabby Lupardus tore her ACL during the postseason with Wyoming East (W. Va.), while Taylor Petit has a nagging shoulder injury and had surgery this summer. Both are out this season as they will redshirt.

Lupardus was the West Virginia player of the year, while Petit was an all-state player coming out of Wisconsin.

That leaves nine. The purveying theme of Tuesday’s media day was this is a small team, but it’s one these women and the coaching staff are quite comfortable with going forward.

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Categories: 2018–19 season

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