Sustained success is the mantra for the SFA Ladyjacks under head coach Mark Kellogg. Courtesy Western Athletic Conference.

Ladyjacks Continue Sustained Success in First Year in the WAC

The Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks 2021-2022 season was near perfection in their debut year in the WAC.

At 28-5 overall and 17-1 in conference play, the Ladyjacks were seemingly impossible to stop on their way to being crowned WAC regular season and tournament champions.

Thanks to their incredible and dominant play, four players were named to All-WAC teams. Their star, Stephanie Visscher, was named to two All-WAC teams: First Team All-WAC and the All-Defensive team. Head coach Mark Kellogg was also named Coach of the Year.

So let’s look back at this fantastic season and see where it started.

SFA Leaves Southland for the WAC

SFA announced in January 2021 that it, along with three other Southland schools, would be joining the WAC in a move that transformed both conferences.

Abilene Christian, Lamar, Sam Houston, and SFA all officially joined the WAC in July of last year and were referred to as the “Texas 4”. (SHSU has since announced it will be leaving the WAC after 2022-2023, and Lamar exited the conference this summer).

The Ladyjacks entered the WAC coming off much success in the Southland Conference.

Since 2016, the team has won at least 23 games each season. In their final season in the SLC, the team was the regular and postseason champions and appeared in the NCAA tournament.

It’s no surprise that after so much dominance, often referred to by Mark Kellogg as “Sustained Success”, they immediately made their mark in their new home in the WAC.

First Team All-WAC selection Stephanie Visscher has been a big key to SFA’s sustained success. Courtesy Western Athletic Conference.

Coming in Hot

The Ladyjacks started off the 2022-23 season by winning 9 of their 12 non-conference games.

They then went on to win 16 games in a row against their new WAC opponents until their final regular season game.

In 15 of these games, they won by 12 or more points. Even when trailing at halftime, on the road, in a hostile environment at GCU Arena, the Ladyjacks stood tall. SFA came out of the break on a 16-2 run to take control and win by 18. Pretty wild.

The Ladyjacks also had multiple wins where they held their opponents to 50 or fewer points. SFA remained completely undefeated in WAC play until their final regular season game. They lost in a thriller against UTRGV 74-76 on SFA’s senior night.

Their consistently excellent play on both ends of the court was, of course, why they had so much success in the regular season. They were incredibly hard to stop when they were on offense, and their height, aggression, and great all-around post play made them difficult to score against as well.

One Banner is Great, but Two are Better

After nearly going undefeated in WAC play, the Ladyjacks were obviously crowned WAC Regular Season Champions. They continued their dominance into the postseason.

Their first of two post-season matchups was against the Wolverines of Utah Valley. After a very close first half, SFA scored 41 points in the final two quarters of play. They also held UVU to just 16 points in that half, resulting in a convincing win for the Ladyjacks.

In the WAC Championship game, SFA had to face GCU, which was coming off of a very close game against reigning champs CBU. The Lopes put up a fight, but the Ladyjacks were simply too hot. Thanks to off-the-charts shooting percentages, SFA took home the title in convincing fashion. It was then official: Stephen F. Austin Women’s Basketball were both the regular season and post-season champs in their inaugural season in the WAC.

Thanks to their championship title, SFA had earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament as a 12-seed.

Unfortunately, the Ladyjacks wouldn’t make it past 5-seed North Carolina. It was an incredibly close game until the 4th quarter. The Tar Heels got hot in the final quarter, and SFA simply couldn’t keep up.

They ended up falling to UNC, 79-66.

However, their play alongside the success of NMSU on the men’s side put the WAC in the national spotlight and showed the conference simply cannot be underestimated.

Zya Nugent was named WAC Tournament MVP after leading SFA to a WAC Tournament title. Courtesy Western Athletic Conference.

Now What?

Well, in an improved and even tougher WAC conference, it’s highly unlikely SFA could repeat exactly how things went last year.

However, despite losing both of their All-WAC First Team players Stephanie Visscher and Brianna Mitchell this off-season, the team was still our favorite to win it all in our Way Too Early Rankings.

Their other two All-WAC players Aiyana Johnson and Zya Nugent are expected to have continued success in the conference. The team added players like center Kurstyn Harden from Northern Colorado to strengthen the team.

The Ladyjacks aren’t going anywhere when it comes to the WAC Championship contender conversation. And if history repeats itself, the Ladyjacks might have a dynasty on their hands.

About the author

Chelsea Mendelson

On-Air Talent and Producer with GCUTV. Former basketball player and current basketball fan. Proud to be a woman in sports.

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