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Thomas More women’s basketball ranked 14th nationally in NAIA Top 25 preseason poll

NKyTribune staff

The Thomas More women’s basketball team is ranked 14th nationally in the NAIA Top 25 preseason poll, which was released Wednesday.

Thomas More posted a 22-10 record last season was ranked No. 22 nationally in the final poll. The Saints also finished as runners-up at the Mid-South Conference Tournament in their first season of NAIA competition.

Zoie Barth was named Mid-South Conference Freshman of the Year last season. (MSC photo)

Thomas More earned a berth in the NAIA nationals, but the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Saints won three national championships at the NCAA Division III level prior to making the move to the NAIA.

Head coach Jeff Hans welcome back three starters in Zoie Barth (12.8 points per game), Courtney Hurst (12.8 ppg) and Briana McNutt (6.6 ppg). Barth, a Highlands High School graduate, was named Mid-South Conference Freshman of the Year last season.

Thomas More also adds three impact transfers in Taylor Clos (Northern Kentucky University), Emily Simon (Charleston) and Kenzie Schwarber (Morehead State).

Clos, a Campbell County High School graduate, saw action in 26 games last season at NKU and averaged 6.8 points per contest. She netted a season-high 19 points at lllinois-Chicago on Jan. 11 and scored in double figures seven times.

Clos scored 459 points in two seasons with the Norse. She also buried a total of 78 shots from 3-point range and collected 49 steals.

Simon averaged 5.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season at Charleston, which competes at the NCAA Division II level. The 5-foot-11 guard started 27 times and dished out 64 assists. Simon also made 77.8 percent of her free throws and shot 43.2 percent from the field.

Taylor Clos, who averaged 6.8 points per contest at NKU last season, is now at Thomas More. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

Thomas More begins the season Nov. 3 by playing host to Indiana East at 6 p.m. in the Connor Convocation Center. Four days later, Indiana Wesleyan visits Thomas More for a 1 p.m. contest.

TMU MEN RECEIVE VOTES: The Thomas More men’s basketball team received 108 votes in the NAIA Top 25 preseason poll on Wednesday and barely missed being ranked. The Saints posted a 26-7 record last season and earned a berth in the NAIA nationals.

Thomas More completed its first season in the Mid-South Conference with an 11-5 record in 2019-20.

The Saints welcome back four starters, including NAIA honorable mention All-American Ryan Batte, who averaged 13.8 points last season. Thomas More also returns Mid-South Conference Freshman of the year Reid Jolly, who averaged 14.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

The senior perimeter tandem of Luke Rudy and Garren Bertsch also return for the Saints. Rudy and Bertsch combined for 156 of the 275 3-pointers made during the 2019-20 season. Other key members Braden Connor, Keegan Saben and Noah Pack return as well.

Thomas More also added NCAA Division II transfer Logan Swackhammer from Flagler (Fla.) and a promising freshman class.

(Information compiled from Thomas More, the Mid-South Conference and staff reports)

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