EVANSVILLE, Ind. – University of Southern Indiana Women’s Basketball is projected to place seventh in the Ohio Valley Conference in a vote submitted by the league’s head coaches and communication directors. USI heads into its first season as an OVC member and NCAA Division I program.
The 10-team OVC will feature a schedule with each team playing each other twice for an 18-game conference schedule from December 29, 2022, through February 25, 2023. The conference’s season concludes with the OVC Basketball Championship Tournament taking place at Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana March 1-4, 2023.
Tennessee Tech University topped the OVC preseason poll with 147 points and 11 first-place votes. The University of Tennessee at Martin was picked second with 134 points and four first-place votes. The University of Arkansas-Little Rock, one of three new members in the OVC this season, also received four first-place votes and picked up 129 points for a third-place finish.
Eastern Illinois University was picked fourth with 115 points, and Tennessee State was selected fifth with 95 points and one first-place vote. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is picked sixth with 83 points while Southern Indiana earned 66 points for seventh place. Southeast Missouri State University (61), Lindenwood University (33), and Morehead State University (33) round out the poll.
As part of the OVC’s preseason announcement, senior forward Hannah Haithcock (Washington Courthouse, Ohio) represented USI on the 2022-23 Preseason All-OVC Women’s Basketball Team. Coming off a terrific junior season in 2021-22, Haithcock averaged 12.3 points per game, 4.7 rebounds per game, and shot 46.7% (135-289) from the floor. She also connected at the free throw line at an 80.5% (66-82) clip. Haithcock made 13 starts in 28 appearances on her way to earning second-team All-Great Lakes Valley Conference accolades for a second consecutive season.
Last season, Haithcock scored in double-figures 20 times, increasing her career total to 48 such performances. She had a pair of double-doubles and two 20-plus games, matching a career-high 22 points in back-to-back contests midway into the conference season. She led the team in scoring in 11 of USI’s 29 games last year. She helped USI to a 23-6 overall record, a 16-2 conference record, a GLVC regular season championship, and an appearance in the 2022 NCAA Division II Midwest Region Tournament.
Haithcock enters the 2022-23 season 26th all-time at USI in career scoring (823) and 33rd all-time in career rebounding (374).
The 2022-23 USI Women’s Basketball squad features returning players in 14 of 15 roster spots and begins its 24th season under Head Coach Rick Stein, who has a 411-237 record leading the last 23 years. The three-time GLVC Coach of the Year earned his 400th career win last January and led the Screaming Eagles to the GLVC regular season championship en route to the program’s 12th NCAA Division II Tournament selection.
Alongside Haithcock, USI has their main frontcourt trio back in the fold this season as the team’s returning leading scorers. Junior forward Meredith Raley (Haubstadt, Indiana) and graduate student Ashlynn Brown (Perrysburg, Ohio) also headline USI’s post presence after averaging 11.8 points per game and 9.2 points per game, respectively. Raley also grabbed a team-high 5.2 rebounds per game, which finished just ahead of Brown’s 5.0 caroms per contest. Sharp-shooting senior guard Addy Blackwell (Bloomington, Indiana) leads the USI backcourt once again this season, coming off a 2021-22 season in which she shot 43.9% (47-107) from three. Blackwell averaged 9.2 points per game, pulled down 3.1 rebounds per game, and totaled 54 assists last season. Raley, Brown, and Blackwell also earned All-GLVC honors a season ago.
USI gets the 2022-23 season rolling on November 7 at 6 p.m. against Oakland City University from Screaming Eagles Arena, starting their season with a pair of home games that week. The first OVC matchup for the Screaming Eagles is on December 29 when USI hosts Southeast Missouri.
2022-23 OVC Women’s Basketball Predicted Order of Finish
(as voted on by the league’s head coaches and communication directors)
1. Tennessee Tech (11 first-place votes) – 147 points
2. UT Martin (four first-place votes) – 134 points
3. Little Rock (four first-place votes) – 129 points
4. Eastern Illinois – 115 points
5. Tennessee State (one first-place vote) – 95 points
6. SIU Edwardsville – 83 points
7. Southern Indiana – 66 points
8. Southeast Missouri – 61 points
T9. Lindenwood – 33 points
T9. Morehead State – 33 points
2022-23 Preseason All-OVC Team
Lariah Washington, Eastern Illinois*
Paige Pipkin, UT Martin
Gia Adams, Tennessee State
Shae Littleford, UT Martin
Mikayla Kinnard, SIU Edwardsville
Jada Guinn, Tennessee Tech
Jordan Brock, Tennessee Tech
Anna Walker, Tennessee Tech
Seygan Robins, UT Martin
Hannah Haithcock, Southern Indiana
Kennedi Watkins, Southeast Missouri
Morgan Litwiller, Eastern Illinois
*Preseason OVC Player of the Year