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Shepherd searching for new women’s head coach

First-year head coach West’s contract not renewed after Rams endure poor season

SHEPHERDSTOWN – Shepherd University has decided not to renew the contract of women’s head basketball coach Toni West, after the Rams struggled to a 4-23 record this season and were ousted from the postseason conference tournament following an 18-point first round loss.

Athletic Director B.J. Pumroy said late last week that Shepherd has launched a national search for a new women’s basketball coach, and that the position will be filled as quickly as possible.

The university will not comment further about the head coaching position until the vacancy is filled, according to a statement released Friday by the athletic department.

The school made no mention in its release of the status of assistant coach Nikki Turner, who just completed her first season with the program.

West served as head coach of the Rams for the 2013-2014 season after having two stints as a Shepherd assistant, including last year under then head coach Melanie Ford, now an assistant athletic director at Shepherd. West also had previous head coaching experience at California State University-East Bay and Las Positas College.

The Rams lost their first four games of the season this year before notching their initial victory. Shepherd also endured losing streaks of five games and 12 games before winning consecutive contests for the only time in late February.

The Rams finished the regular season ranked 11th of 12 teams in the Mountain East Conference, after league coaches had predicted a fifth-place finish during the preseason. Shepherd was ousted from the postseason conference tournament March 4 following a 102-84 loss in the first round at Urbana.

In what was otherwise a lackluster season, Shepherd did experience a few high notes.

Junior center Gabby Flinchum, the Rams’ leading scorer with 15.9 points per game and a second-team all-conference selection, eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for her career Feb. 26 during Shepherd’s 86-66 victory against West Virginia Wesleyan in Shepherdstown.

Flinchum, who also led the Rams with an average of 8.2 rebounds, scored a season-high 28 points against the Bobcats to lead Shepherd to its only back-to-back victories of the season following a 90-77 win Feb. 22 at Concord.

Meanwhile, Shepherd guard Cara Mason earned Mountain East Conference Freshman of the Year honors. Mason made 23 starts and averaged 11.2 points, while also leading the Rams in assists and steals.

– Jeff Brammer

 

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