March 16, 2007
Boca Raton, FL - The 2006-2007 Florida Atlantic University women's basketball season was all about new experiences and growing as a program. Coming off their first Division I NCAA tournament berth, the Owls (6-25, 2-16 SBC) embarked on their first year in the competitive Sun Belt Conference, a league with the ninth best RPI in the nation.
"Considering the challenging new conference that we joined, I was pleased with how we competed this year," said Head Coach Chancellor Dugan. "We put ourselves in a position to win a lot of games and now find ourselves more familiar with the Sun Belt and what it takes to succeed."
Seven of FAU's opponents were eventual 2007 NCAA tournament qualifiers. The Owls got their season started with a difficult non-conference schedule. They were members of five different regular-season tournaments, which tested the youthful squad early. In the opening Veterans Day Classic, Florida Atlantic did battle with two ranked teams in no. 20 New Mexico on November 10, and no. 13 Arizona State on November 13. In their first home game at the FAU Tip-Off Classic against Akron on November 17, Chancellor Dugan reached a milestone with her 100th career victory at the school. The following weekend the Owls once again did battle with a ranked team, falling to No.14 Vanderbilt on November 24, in a Vanderbilt Thanksgiving Tournament contest that saw FAU keep it close for most of the first frame.
In their inaugural Sun Belt match-up against Western Kentucky on December 2, Florida Atlantic kept it within six points with less than one minute left, before falling to the conference power. Success would find the Owls in the second game of the UAB Blazer Invitational. FAU cruised to an 84-54 victory over Alabama State on December 19, which saw the Owls hold Alabama State to 27.8 percent shooting. The non-conference season ended on the right note as Florida Atlantic began the FAU Invitational on December 29, with a comfortable 87-52 victory over former A-Sun foe Campbell. The next day in the finals, Shuteamia Brayboy sunk a buzzer beater to propel FAU to a 58-56 win over Ohio that saw them capture the tournament crown.
During the early portions of the Sun Belt slate, FAU gave several close and gritty performances. They narrowly fell to UNO, 89-86, in double overtime on the road on January 3. At home against Louisiana-Monroe on January 14 the Owls fell in a tightly fought game, 76-72. Against a quality Arkansas-Little Rock squad at home on January 27, the Owls mounted a rally that just came up short, 60-57.
Fan support and attendance at FAU Arena was a big factor in the teams increased performance at home. In front of a record setting 927 attendees on February 10, FAU put on a great effort. Facing rival Florida International, the Owls were defeated in the final moments, 72-67.
A culmination of a season's hard work and effort came together in the final two home games. Florida Atlantic held off a late UNO rally to win its first ever Sun Belt game, 68-61, on February 18. Riding on that momentum, FAU gutted out a 58-55 win over South Alabama on Senior Day 2007. Entering their final regular-season game against conference power MTSU, the Owls played with passion and only trailed by three with 16 minutes left. The Blue Raiders eventually got the 13 point victory, but FAU showed that it could compete with the conferences best. Florida Atlantic's inaugural season in the Sun Belt came to a conclusion on February 28 in the first round of the Sun Belt tournament against Denver, 65-41.
The four seniors on the Owls roster (Mistoria Brown, Demina Anderson, Cristal Randolph, and Sally N'Diaye) have left an indelible mark on the program. Each made significant contributions, which impacted the team on many levels.
"The seniors should be proud of how they led this group," said Coach Dugan. "They instilled leadership all year long and with such a young and inexperienced team they stayed focused and set an example of the right way to play."
Mistoria Brown was a force to be reckoned with during conference play, finishing 7th in scoring (15.2 PPG) and 8th in rebounding (7.1 RPG). Mistoria was named a member of the FAU Tip-Off Classic All-Tournament Team and netted a career-best 33 points against North Texas on January 20. She leaves FAU having recorded seven double-doubles and over 550 points.
Demina Anderson played a vital role in the post this season for FAU. Demina had a career-high 26 points and 13 rebounds against UNO in January, and has averaged over seven points-per-game in her career. Cristal Randolph leaves the program as one if it's most prolific three-point shooters. The senior saw her game flourish this season, as she was named MVP of the FAU Invitational and scored in double-digits 10 times. Randolph is second all-time in three-pointers made at the school and exits with over 600 total points.
Sally N'Diaye was a benchmark of consistency in her time at FAU, playing in nearly every Owl game over that span. Sally leaves the program with 117 games played, the most all-time at Florida Atlantic.
The future is bright for the Owls as several of their veterans had productive seasons. Junior Shuteamia Brayboy was second in the conference in both assists-per-game (5.13) and in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.38). With one season remaining, she is second all-time in assists and fourth all-time in steals at the university. Sophomore Brittney Crenshaw increased her play as the conference season wore on. She tied a career-high with 18-points on February 18 against UNO. Crenshaw finished conference play seventh in steals (2.3 SPG) and 13th in rebounding (6.3 RPG). Sophomore Breana Cox had three double-digit scoring games and with 28 blocks in 2006-2007 she is now tied for ninth all-time in blocks at FAU. Junior Adel Lizama and Sophomore Susan Beauzil round out the group of solid veteran contributors who helped the Owls in their first Sun Belt season.
Four freshmen made their first appearances in Boca Raton this year, each showing potential for long-term success. Bianca Sellers put in a career-high 15 points against North Texas on January 20 and provided a spark off the bench. Andrea Taylor had five points and seven assists in a return home to Birmingham against Alabama State in the Blazer Invitational on December 19. She netted a career-high 11 points against Nebraska on November 12. Brittany Bowe started her first collegiate season on the right foot, netting double-digits in three of her first four games. She had 18 points against Arizona State on November 13 and completed the year with 5.4 points-per-game, the most of the freshmen class. Carla Stubbs ended the season strong, putting in 10 points and 10 rebounds in a double-double against UNO on February 18. She led the freshmen with 3.3 rebounds-per-game.
With an extensive renovation project scheduled for FAU Arena, the team and fans alike may not recognize the building come next fall. FAU Arena is scheduled to receive a new roof, renovated and enlarged locker rooms, a team store, a new scoreboard and an upgraded façade and exterior.
"It's an exciting time to be at Florida Atlantic University," said Coach Dugan. "This renovation is not only a commitment to improve the university, but to put our athletic program on par with the other Sun Belt schools. Nothing but positive will come from the added ability for us to showcase ourselves to both recruits and the community at large."