The UC Clermont women’s basketball team has claimed the 2023 Small College Division II National Championship for the United States Collegiate Athletic Association.
The Lady Cougars went on a 24-0 run spanning eight minutes over the first and second periods en route to a 60-46 win over the Johnson & Wales Charlotte Wildcats to capture the championship Thursday, March 16, at Virginia State University.
UC Clermont (20-7) was paced by senior Ashley Moore (Felicity-Franklin) with 27 points and nine assists, while junior Tyra Murphy (Conor/Ky.) added 14 points to go with 14 rebounds, and graduate student Kristi Duncan (Mt. Notre Dame) chipped in with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
“It’s surreal,” said Head Coach Ken Lowe. But the team had unfinished work from last year when they landed in the final four. “Our goal this season was the national championship. It came to fruition.”
Lowe said UC Clermont won the championship game by playing to their strengths, slowing down a faster Johnson Wales team and taking their shots. The Lady Cougars averaged 79 points a game this season.
“We play an up-tempo game and learn to make adjustments,” said Lowe. “We shoot well. We share the ball well.”
Beyond the court, Lowe said a positive team culture and upperclassmen leadership were the driving forces behind this squad’s success. The team included seven freshmen, but also a handful of returning players who had experienced playing in the big tournament moments last season.
“Captain Ashley Moore especially knew how to bring the team together,” Lowe said of the senior, who has also played at Cincinnati State and Wabash College in Illinois and coaches youth basketball. “The players came together throughout the season, and there were no conflicts – great locker room.”
UC Clermont has competed in the national tournament three of the last five seasons and previously won a national championship in 2014. Lowe, who has been with the program for nine years and served as head coach for five, said he’s impressed with how players juggle the demands of being student-athletes. Lowe and Assistant Coach Tim Swart said the skill level and dedication of recruits continue to grow as well.
“We understand the lifestyle our students live – they have to work, go to school and play ball,” Lowe said. “We’re proud of these players, and we hope to continue to move forward.”
Featured image at top: UC Clermont women’s basketball team celebrates their national championship win in Virginia Beach Thursday, March 16. Photo/USCAA