By Chris Chaney
Basketball is a game of runs and the University of Cincinnati-Clermont College Lady Cougars are in the midst of one at the perfect time in their season.
Playing an elevated schedule that includes many more scholarship teams, the Lady Cougars have raised their level of play to compete with some of the best teams in the country, especially of late.
“(We) have won five of their last six games losing only to USCAA No. 2-ranked Division I Lindenwood University,” Lady Cougars head coach Michael Matthews said. “The wins have evened our record to 15-15 and a No. 9 ranking in the USCAA Division II poll.”
Notching another victory on Feb. 1, the Lady Cougars have surpassed the .500 mark and are now 16-15 on the year. UC Clermont hovered around an even record for the first quarter of the season, getting to 7-7 through 14 games, but just as their level of play dipped, the quality of their opponents increased, leading to a stretch of games during which the Lady Cougars dropped seven of 10 games.
Always resilient, the team refocused their energy and have put together one of the more impressive stretches of play all season, all led by senior All-American Marisa Stutz.
Stutz, a Felicity-Franklin graduate, recorded her eighth double-double of the season in a three-point win over Wilberforce University on Jan. 24. Stutz scored 14 points and pulled down 13 rebounds in the win.
For her efforts, Stutz was named the Co-Player of the Week in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association.
“Marisa Stutz is not just one dimensional in life. Besides being the most uniquely gifted athlete I have ever known, she is an excellent student and will graduate this year with a bachelors in nursing,” Matthews said. “She has been a great ambassador for UC Clermont College and a role model for all young players”
Stutz also claimed another accolade with her play of late, becoming the all-time leading rebounder in UC Clermont history with 1,088.
The Lady Cougars have three games remaining on their regular season schedule, all against teams that they have already beaten this season. UC Clermont will start their stretch run with a game at Midway on Feb. 12 followed by another road game at Wilberforce on Feb. 13.
The Lady Cougars will close out their regular season with a Feb. 19 showdown with Kentucky Christian at home.
With a strong finish, the Lady Cougars could possibly receive an at-large bid to the USCAA National Tournament, dependent upon the selection committee’s discretion.
UC Clermont has solidified themselves as a respectable opponent and a familiar face at the National Tournament. With their recent run of success, the Lady Cougars hope to hear some good news from the committee and make a return trip to Penn State-Fayette on Feb. 26.