Ashland University's women's basketball team has scored 3,409 points so far in 2017-18 – 48 points away from breaking its own NCAA Division II women's basketball record set last season, and 73 points away from being the highest-scoring single-season team in NCAA women's hoops history at all levels.
The Eagle who more often than not sets the tone for the only NCAA women's basketball team averaging at least 100 points per game is sophomore point guard Renee Stimpert. There are just six D-II women's hoops players who average at least 6.0 assists per game this season, and only two average more points per game than Stimpert's 10.2.
Drilling down on the numbers shows how impressive Stimpert's first season as a collegiate starter has been:
- Stimpert has a D-II-high 222 assists this winter, and her 6.5 helpers per game are tied for fourth-most in the nation. She has four games with at least 10 assists this season, and has at least five in 19 of the last 20 contests.
- She is fourth in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.71-to-1, and in those double-digit assist games, Stimpert had 47 assists to only three turnovers.
- Stimpert's scoring average has steadily gone up in 2017-18, to the point where she gives Ashland five double-digit starters. In the last 10 games, starting with a career-high 24-point performance in the 96-90 overtime win at Grand Valley State on Feb. 15, Stimpert is averaging 13.1 points per outing.
"One of Renee's biggest strengths is she's fearless," said Ashland head coach Robyn Fralick. "She's fearless, and she's competitive. The game was back-and-forth, back-and-forth, and she just made winning play after winning play. And she was really critical in our ability to win the game."
"I think I've just been attacking more, attacking spaces," Stimpert said. "I know teams aren't really guarding me, because we have four other dynamic starters, and I think they're focusing more on them. I've been trying to open it up more.
"I think I've been more confident, but I've also been more aggressive. I needed to step up (at GVSU). Taking on that role of a leader really showed in that game, and made me more confident."
- In keeping with the Eagles' quick defense-to-offense attack, Stimpert also has 94 steals, tied for 10th-most in Division II.
"She is a dynamic playmaker," Fralick said. "What stands out about her is, she often sees the pass before it's there, which that's a special trait. That's pretty unique in a player."
Coming from nearby Crestview High School, where she scored 54 points in a game and 2,305 points in her prep career, Stimpert adjusted to a new role as backup point guard as a freshman on last year's national-championship team. She averaged 5.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists last season, and led the Eagles in total assists with 143.
Stimpert worked hard in the offseason to prepare for the starting role she's had this season. One of the results of that hard work is her launching herself into fifth place on Ashland's all-time assists list with 365 in less than two full seasons.
"I'm having fun with it, and we're winning," Stimpert said.
Starting Monday (March 19) in Sioux Falls, S.D., Stimpert and her Eagle teammates will play in a second consecutive NCAA Division II Elite Eight. Stimpert already has played in nine D-II postseason games, so experience and confidence won't be an issue.
"You get to see teams you don't get to see much out of your region and out of your conference," Stimpert said of last season's Elite Eight experience. "It's all different styles of play. We just have to focus on us…and do the things you can control.
"Our team is so dynamic, and we have players that you honestly don't know who the shot will go to. Going into next week, I think that's really something that we pride ourselves on."