THE PROSPECTS for the BU women’s basketball team were bleak in the mid- to late-2000s. The team was struggling with low numbers and even fewer wins. It was time for a change in strategy and attitude, a transformation that began with the hiring of head coach Bill Cleary in 2008.
In Cleary’s first season, the program showed renewed signs of life with 11 wins and the conference Rookie of the Year, guard Kelsey Gallagher of East Stroudsburg. But when Cleary recruited Lauren Ellis of Bangor, Alyssa Flanagan of Freeland, Dana Wieller of Bethlehem and Kayla Oxenrider of Ashland, three years ago, the rebuilding process took off. Today, these players make the Huskies a team to be taken seriously, contributing to 26 wins this past season. They captured the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern title for the second straight year and earned the team’s first trip to the NCAA championships in 10 years.
Success on the court nurtured a friendship off the court for these four players, who were part of Cleary’s first recruiting class. “The attraction for all us was that Bloomsburg is a great school, has a coach who is honest with us and the chance to play right away,” says Ellis.
Residence hall assignments placed Flanagan, Wieller and Oxenrider in the same tripled room their freshman year. In such tight quarters, they bonded quickly and, along with Ellis, became inseparable on and off the court. They have roomed together since their sophomore year, visited each other’s homes, traveled to Notre Dame University for foot- ball games and spent vacation time at the Flanagan family’s rental in North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
The foursome looks forward to one more year on the court to continue their winning ways.