Miami University’s Lauren Dickerson defends Western Kentucky’s Whitney Creech during a WNIT game at in March, 2019, at Millett Hall in Oxford. WKU won 67-63. SCOTT KISSELL/MIAMI UNIVERSITY

College basketball: Hendrix set to begin first season as Miami women’s coach

The RedHawks will play an exhibition game against Findlay at 7 p.m. Thursday at 7 p.m. at Millett Hall.

DeUnna Hendrix was named on April 23 to replace Megan Duffy as Miami’s ninth women’s basketball head coach – 10th if you count Randy Roberts, who coached the last 10 games of the 1997-1998 season. Hendrix inherits a team with nine returning players, including all-conference picks Lauren Dickerson and Savannah Kluesner, from a team that went 23-9 overall and 13-5 in the Mid-American Conference to finish second in the East Division.

»RELATED: Hendrix takes over Miami women’s program

Miami was 44-20 in Duffy’s two seasons, including visits to the MAC Tournament semifinals and two first-round losses in the post-season WNIT, before she left for the Marquette job.

Here are five things to know about Miami’s women’s team going into the season:

Lauren Dickerson on record pace

As High Point’s coach last season, Hendrix got a first-hand look at Miami’s 5-foot-3 point guard in a 68-55 RedHawks win at Millett Hall. Dickerson scored 12 of her 16 points in the first half.

“I knew she was good, but seeing what she does every day is amazing,” Hendricks said.

Dickerson, a first-team All-MAC pick each of the last two seasons after being named the conference freshman of the year, currently ranks fourth on the program’s career scoring list with 1,670 points in 96 games. If she maintains the pace she established in her first three seasons, she’ll overtake Courtney Osborn and finish as the leader. Osborn scored 2,166 points in 123 games before exhausting her eligibility in 2013.

Room to grow

Besides the loss of four seniors to graduation, 5-9 guard Nia Clark transferred to Xavier after one season with the Redhawks, during which an injury limited her to nine games, including six starts. She averaged a promising 10.6 points per game.

Hendrix and the rest of the Miami crew are hoping that 6-foot redshirt-freshman forward Tihanna Fulton can help fill in at least part of the gap left by Clark’s departure. The Mason High School product missed her entire true freshman season with an injury,

Dickerson and Kluesner, a 6-2 forward and second-team All-MAC pick last season, are Miami’s only two seniors, though the addition of 6-foot guard-forward Bree Olson as a graduate transfer from St. Bonaventure will enhance the experience level.

“Knock on wood, we’re all healthy, “ Hendrix said. “We’re right where we need to be. We’re not in MAC shape yet, but we will be.”

Reinforcements

Besides Olson, Miami also welcomes junior Monique Esbrand, a 5-9 guard from London, England and freshmen guards Taylor Boruff, Amani Freeman andPeyton Scott.

The 5-8 Scott played at the same high school, Lynchburg-Clay, as Paul Cluxton, who set an all-division NCAA record by going 94-for-94 on free throws as a senior in the 1996-1997 season.

Like most freshmen, Scott is having to adjust to the faster pace of the college game, but she’s looking forward to an up-tempo game.

“Scoring early and getting deflections,” she said. “I think one of our strengths will be pushing the ball.”

The schedule is complicated

If the RedHawks can upset DePaul, they would face the winner of the Davidson-Drexel game in the second round.

If they lose, they would be placed in a pod with three other losing teams for a mini-tournament, which could include a home game on Nov. 15 or 16.

“Our non-conference schedule is no joke,” Hendrix said. “The WNIT invitation is amazing. What we’re thinking is ‘Let’s determine who we’re going to be before we start our conference season.”

That is scheduled for Jan. 4 at home against Buffalo.

Been a while

The RedHawks haven’t won a division championship since the 2003-2004 season. They haven’t won a conference tournament championship since the 2007-2008 season. Maria Fantanarosa coached both of those teams. Hendrix is Miami’s third coach since Fantanarosa was let go after the 2012-2013 season.

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