Written by Cianna Jay // Photo by Macy Cox
The Lady Bisons ended their basketball season with 25 wins, the third time in program history the team ended with that many victories. Though they lost their last game March 5 against Southern Nazarene University and could not advance to the NCAA tournament, the team placed second in the Great American Conference. Several players earned All-GAC tournament honors, including senior guard Jacie Evans, junior forward Sage Hawley and sophomore guard Rory Geer.
For Hawley, this has been a season full of accomplishments. She became the third Lady Bison to earn both First Team All-Central Region and Academic All-America honors and the second Lady Bison named Second Team All-America by the Division II Conference Commissioner’s Association, an award voted on by Division II sports information directors. Hawley also set a school record with 20 double-doubles. A double-double is when a player accumulates 10 or more in at least two statistical categories — points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots — during a single game.
“It is a tribute to Sage and our team having a great season,” head women’s basketball coach Tim Kirby said about Hawley earning Second Team. “When an individual gets recognition for their accomplishments, it also gives the team some recognition.”
Hawley said the team has pushed her to where she is now.
“This was my third year on the team, and I think everybody that’s come through has really pushed me to be a better person,” Hawley said. “Specifically, I think the coaches really have high expectations for me, and I feel like this year I was able to meet a lot of them. And that’s always my goal. And then I think my teammates know more than me sometimes about, like where I can be and where I should be.”
Hawley noted the influence of Evans in particular in showing her what leadership looks like. The two have been close friends since Hawley’s freshman year, according to Evans.
“She’s someone that can always make me smile,” Evans said. “I know when Sage is around, she is going to either be dancing or making us laugh.”
In the Lady Bisons’ last game, Evans led the team with 21 points. She was also named a 2023 Distinguished Scholar Athlete.
“This season was very successful in my eyes, and I know it was in my coaches’ eyes as well,” Evans said. “We won a lot of games and played hard consistently throughout our season. It’s disappointing we didn’t get a chance at the NCAA tournament. However, I am more than content with how our team played this year. It was my first time here at Harding to make it to the conference finals and, as a senior, that’s exactly where you want to be.”
Hawley said the team is currently focusing on off-season training and she’s excited for the season ahead.
“I want all the awards I get if I can, but really, the main thing is I want a GAC championship,” Hawley said. “I want that not only for myself and the senior class, but also just for the people that have pushed me to be this way. … Then I want to go as far as I can in the NCAA tournament.”