BALTIMORE, MD – It’s a new era for the Johns Hopkins women’s basketball team as Katherine Bixby takes over as head coach after longtime coach Nancy Funk retired after 31 seasons. Bixby inherits a team that went 13-12 overall and finished fifth in the Centennial Conference with a 12-8 record and qualified for the conference tournament.
Hopkins welcomes back nine players from last year’s team including six juniors. Junior Lillian Scott earned second team All-Centennial honors last season as she finished third in the conference in points per game (15.6) and three-point percentage (38.5). Scott was the top scorer for Johns Hopkins last year with 359 points and 50 three-pointers.
Rory Cole led the team with 213 rebounds last season, including 87 offensive rebounds. Lexie Scholtz topped JHU with 122 assists and ranked 21st in the nation in assist to turnover ratio (2.18). She was one of just three Blue Jays to start every game last season, and recorded the second triple-double in program history against Bryn Mawr on January 12 (12 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds). Madison McGrath started all 25 games last season and made 27 three-pointers and averaged 8.4 points per game. Marissa Varnado appeared in 24 games last year and averaged 6.5 points per game off the bench. Maggie Spitzer is back and healthy after only playing 13 games last year.
Sophomore Maggie Wodicka appeared in all 25 games for Hopkins off the bench, as the West Lafayette, IN native made 14 threes and averaged 3.6 points per game last season. Fellow sophomores Kenz Wilkinson and Jess Sweeney will look to make a valuable impact on the team as Bixby says the sophomore class has consistently been some of the hardest workers in practice. After missing last season, junior Sophia Way returns for Johns Hopkins. Way averaged 5.9 points as a freshman and shot 81.5 percent from the free throw line and 32.6 percent from the three-point line. Bixby calls her an “exciting addition to the team.”
Bixby welcomes two freshmen to the team Lyndsey Hoyd and Elise Moore. Bixby notes the freshmen have fit in seamlessly and stepped up in practice. “They are vocally present in practice and play present as well.”
The Blue Jays open the 2017-18 season on the road against Messiah on Wednesday before coming home to host the Mike Durgala Tournament on November 18 and 19. JHU faces Lynchburg in the opening game on Saturday and either Albright or Marymount on Sunday. The opening three games will be a tough test for Hopkins as the four teams combined to go 95-22 last season. Bixby is excited about the early test as it will be a learning experience for the team. “It’s going to be important for us to not get lost in what we are building long-term,” Bixby said, “We may make some mistakes, but we will be focused on process over perfection.”
Hopkins opens up Centennial Conference action on November 21 when JHU heads to McDaniel for a 6 pm contest. Johns Hopkins plays 10 conference games on the road and 10 at home. The Blue Jays play four straight games on the road between December 6 and January 3, which is their longest road trip of the season. Johns Hopkins concludes its regular season at home on February 17 against Bryn Mawr.
HEAD COACH Katherine Bixby
• “We are going to try and play up-tempo and push the ball. It’s no secret that we are guard heavy and hopefully we can use that to our advantage by pushing the ball and playing quicker.”
• “We are focusing on our defense to get the team playing together as a unit. We want our defense to help create more offense.”
• “We have a vision for this team. We want to understand the team and its dynamic, and we are working hard in practice to promote cohesion and remain positive.”
BY THE NUMBERS
4 – JHU was picked to finish fourth in the Centennial Conference.
7 – Bixby becomes the seventh head coach in program history.
11 – Teams on the schedule this season that finished above .500 last season.
12 – The Blue Jays will play 12 games at home this season.
19 – Hopkins has made 19 trips to the CC Tournament.
581 - Number of wins in program history.