Virginia Union University's women's basketball team, the defending CIAA Champions, have been picked to win the CIAA again in 2019-20, the CIAA announced at the annual CIAA Basketball Media Day on Tuesday, October 1, in Charlotte, N.C.
VUU also landed a conference-high three players on the Pre-Season All-CIAA Team. Junior Shareka McNeill, Senior Jasmine Carter and sophomore Ifunanya Okoye were all named to the All-CIAA squad.
McNeill, the reigning CIAA Player of the Year, returns for her junior season after averaging a league-leading 24.7 points per contest, good for fifth best in all of Division II. The Charlotte, N.C., native was the CIAA’s top three-point shooter at 38.2 percent from the three-point line and made 3.4 per game, which was third best in the conference. A D2CCA All-American last season, McNeill shot 41 percent from field and nearly 78 percent from the line, ranking among league leaders in both categories. She went on a historic run during the 2019 CIAA Basketball Tournament that saw her average 44.6 points per game, including a 59-point performance that tied the tournament record for most points scored in a single game and broke the record for most points in the tournament with 134 points.
Carter, a senior from Richmond, Va., averaged 10.1 rebounds per game to go with a 7.9 points per game scoring average last season. Carter pulled down a season-high 18 rebounds and scored 18 points in VUU's 76-40 win over Lincoln University of Pennsylvania last season. Carter was named to the CIAA All-Tournament Team for her performance over the three-game tournament.
Okoye, a sophomore from Lagos, Nigeria, was second on the team with a 10.9 points per game scoring average before being sidelined with an injury 19 games into the season. Despite the injury, she was still named to the CIAA All-Rookie Team.
"Being in the number one position is much better than being in any other position," said VUU Head Women's Basketball coach AnnMarie Gilbert. "It's difficult because we do have a target on our backs that seems to grow each and every year. but we try to get our kids to focus on that each and every day and each and every practice. We don't want them to lose sight of the goal, and the goal for us starts with the CIAA Championship, a National Championship is our end-game goal."
Virginia Union led the women’s preseason team with three selections followed by two each from Lincoln (PA), Elizabeth City State, and Bowie State with seven total schools having representation on the team.
Virginia Union tips off the 2019-20 season when the Lady Panthers travel to Daytona Beach, Fla., to face Embry-Riddle University at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 9.
Daisa Harris, Livingstone College +
Shareka McNeill, Virginia Union University +$
Kwanza Murray, Lincoln University +
Amaya Tucker, Winston-Salem State University +
Asia Deal, Elizabeth City State University
Naterria Luster, Elizabeth City State University +
Kyaja Williams, Bowie State University +
Alisia Machado, Lincoln University
Jasmine Carter, Virginia Union University
Ifunanya Okoye, Virginia Union University
Dynaisha Christian, Bowie State University
Kaaliya Williams, Saint Augustine’s University
+ - Returning 2018-19 All-CIAA selection
$ - 2018-19 CIAA Player of the Year
CIAA Women’s Basketball Predicted Order of Finish