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VANGUARD:Starter named NAIA Player of the Year

ON CAMPUS AT

April 17, 2007|By Joel Kilpatrick

Vanguard University's women's basketball team blazed through another record-setting season, posting an eye-popping 31-1 record and reaching the Final Four at the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics tournament.

"This year will be the benchmark for future Lions teams as we strive on our journey for a national championship," said coach Russ Davis, who was named Golden State Athletic Conference Coach of the Year for the fifth time in his career.

The Lions added a long list of accomplishments to their reputation as a West Coast powerhouse. The team won the GSAC championship for the fifth year in a row and has not lost in conference play since 2005, winning 46 straight games. The Lions have now won more women's basketball conference titles (eight) than any other team in the conference.

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Vanguard has also gained a rare honor: Its players have been named NAIA Player of the Year in each of the past three years: Lisa Faulkner in 2005, Kelly Schmidt in 2006 and Jessica Richter this year. (Faulkner is now Vanguard's assistant coach.)

"I'm proud of what our team has been able to do," said Schmidt, a four-year starter at Vanguard. "We've had a great record every year and we've helped the program to become one of the top programs in the country."

Schmidt became the all-time NAIA leader in free throws and finished her career with more than 2,500 points and 1,000 rebounds, a feat accomplished by only a few other NAIA players. She is Vanguard's career rebounding leader and was the GSAC Player of the Year for the past two seasons.

She said the Lions have excelled because of good chemistry and selfless play.

"It's not about trying to get this many points or assists but to play my hardest," Schmidt said. "We all want to see each other do well. Vanguard has been a great place to come and not just become a better basketball player but to grow spiritually and make friendships I'll have for life."

Davis says Schmidt is a shoo-in to become Vanguard's first player in the NAIA Hall of Fame.

"Kelly is a four-time, first team All-American, national player of the year and up for a Champions of Character award," he said. "You can't get much better than that."

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