Feb. 25, 2014
Boca Raton, Fla. -
Seniors Briah Blakely, Takia Brooks, Latavia Dempsey, Shanequa Schrouder, Kimberly Smith and Ashley Stevenson are truly grateful for their time and experiences as women's basketball players at FAU. The seniors hope to end their final season strong and set the stage for returning teammates.
"Our main goal is to make it to the post-season," said Schrouder. "Winning the conference title is on our minds as well."
"We want to leave everything out on the court and have no regrets," said Dempsey.
"I think it is important to win our final home games to make the university and our fans proud," said Blakely.
With Head Coach Kellie Lewis-Jay's arrival in 2012, the team had to make some adjustments. Lewis-Jay is trying to build a program and the seniors have been a major part of that building effort.
"Coach is trying to build a legacy," said Smith. "There has definitely been more fans coming to the games this season and more support for the program as a result of her efforts."
"She is never out of new ideas and ways to make us better as an individual and as a team, said Brooks about Lewis-Jay.
"She is a wise coach and has given us a lot of freedom to develop our skills in different ways that work for us as individuals as well as a team," said Stevenson.
The Owls have had a challenging 2014 season. Although they have set program records along the way such as a notable performance with 33 steals against Florida Memorial on Nov. 16 which tied a Conference USA record. The 77-point margin in the 120-43 victory was the most in FAU history and the 120 points is the second most in school history.
"We've dealt with a lot of adversity this season with the loss of several players due to injuries," said Smith. "Our roles have changed since preseason and everyone has to adjust to playing out of position," added Dempsey.
Of course, it hasn't all been a struggle. The seniors have had fun, memorable moments and accomplished many personal goals during their time at FAU.
"My career-high 22 points against Louisiana Tech was a key moment for me," said Blakely. "Another memorable moment was our huge snowball fight last year in Wisconsin. Some of my teammates had never seen snow, so it was such a fun experience for everyone."
"One of my favorite moments this year was our overtime win against UCF. We came together as a team and had a huge run," said Schrouder.
"I have enjoyed playing cards, like UNO on the road. I think it helped us bond and become closer as a team," said Stevenson. "I also enjoyed wearing pink in support of cancer awareness in our game against Tulane, where I scored a career-high 12 points. The energy from the bench during that game was really exciting."
The seniors have made a big impact on both the women's basketball program, their teammates, and head coach Lewis-Jay.
Briah Blakely: Blakely, who transferred from McLennan Community College in Texas, started all but one game for the Owls in 2013-14. She hit a career-high 22 points in the team's heartbreaking 64-63 loss to Louisiana Tech on January 22. She currently averages 6.5 points per game and has 57 rebounds.
"When I think of Briah, I think of heart, fire and a fierce competitor," said Lewis-Jay. "I love what she brings to the team and that she is able to positively influence her teammates. She has worked hard to accomplish what she has, and I feel she will continue to do so for the rest of her life."
Takia Brooks: Brooks, an FAU four-year letter winner, has proven to be a true team leader. This year, she has put up 289 total points, had 77 rebounds and 72 assists. In 2013, she led the team with 78 assists and 60 steals.
"Takia is the hardest worker that I've ever coached. She always strives for greatness," said Lewis-Jay. "She has had to play point guard, which is one of the toughest positions. There has never been a day where I had to tell her to play harder or put in more effort."
Latavia Dempsey: Dempsey is one of the best long-range shooters on the team, putting up 46 three-pointers this year compared after 42 a year ago. She had a career-high 28 points in the 97-69 win over Rice in January. She also currently leads the team shooting 82% from the free throw line.
"Tay has grown a lot in the two years that I have been here. It has been fun to watch her grow and come out of her shell, especially off the court," said Lewis-Jay. "She is an unbelievable shooter and has worked very hard to get where she is."
Shanequa Schrouder: Schrouder, a transfer from Daytona State College, tied her career high with 14 points in the 71-62 victory over Jacksonville last December. She has appeared in every game this season and is second on the team with 128 rebounds and she averages 7.6 ppg.
"Niq was the first player I signed as a head coach, so that is very special to me," Lewis-Jay said. "She has a lot of spirit and keeps the team laughing. I am grateful that she has adapted to our style and been able to play so many different positions without a single complaint."
Kim Smith: Smith has emerged as a team leader and key component on both sides of the ball. This season, she set a career and FAU record with nine 3-pointers in the win at Tulsa on February 8. She also broke the single-season three-point record and currently has 75. She leads the team averaging 13.0 ppg and 5.7 rpg and has a team high in assists and steals.
"Kim is our heart. She is the kind of person that the younger players can look up to and strive to be," Lewis-Jay said. "If you had five players on the court like her, any team would be successful."
Ashley Stevenson: Stevenson, a first team NJCAA All-region honoree from Moberly Area Community College, has had 15 steals and 64 rebounds this season. She had a career high 12 points in the game against Tulane on February 8.
"She is a tough kid and a hard worker," said Lewis-Jay. "She has a great ability to find the ball and get those rebounds despite her size. She is a positive influence on the bench and helps keep the team going."
The Future is Near
The six seniors are now looking toward their future goals, many of which do not include playing professional basketball.
Schrouder: "I am going to pursue a master's degree in elementary education."
Brooks: "I'd like to enter the fire or police academy."
Stevenson: "I definitely want to go to graduate school and possibly pursue a career in the medical field."
Blakeley and Smith: would like to serve as graduate assistants for college basketball programs.
Dempsey: "I would like to pursue basketball overseas and see where that takes me. If I'm not happy with what I am doing, I plan to work in the public sector utilizing my degree in public administration."
Little Known Facts About the Seniors
- Briah has been roller skating since she was four years old and enjoys jam skating when she visits her home in Texas.
- Takia has to listen to "Walk Through" by Rich Homie Quan before every game or she feels it is bad luck.
- Latavia wants to learn to play the piano so she can diversify her talents.
- Shanequa is going to celebrate her birthday this week by riding a roller coaster for the first time at Busch Gardens.
- Kim enjoys playing ping pong in her off-time and was a three-sport athlete in high school.
- Ashley is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
FAU Senior Day will be March 5 at 7 p.m. as the Owls host UTEP in the final home game of the season. For ticket information, call 1-866-FAU-OWLS or visit FAUSports.com.
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