Bellevue University’s Elexis Martinez takes contact while shooting a layup in the Bruins’ upset win over No. 13 Dordt last season.

The Bellevue women’s basketball team is coming into their 2019-20 season looking to build upon a very successful 2018-19 campaign. The Bruins finished 23-10 and won their first NSAA tournament title and secured a bid in the NAIA National Tournament.

They lost in the first round to Taylor University, but were able to compete in the NAIA tournament for the first time.

They went 3-0 in the NSAA conference tournament with wins over Dakota State, Valley City State and Mayville State to earn their bid in the NAIA tournament.

The Bruins are returning three starters from last season that will help lead them this season. Elexis Martinez, Jamie Winkler and Faith Ross are looking to build upon their success last season and help the young players acclimate to the team and program.

Martinez led the team in scoring last season, averaging 13.8 points per game. Faith Ross was second on the team in scoring with 11 points per game and Jamie Winkler finished fourth on the team with 9.9 points per game.

Morgan Cuffe leaves the biggest shoes to fill for the Bruins. The senior forward averaged 10.6 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game, which was good for second on the team.

The Bruins are adding multiple transfers who will make an immediate impact for the group. Brittany Hill is a senior guard transferring in from Ohio Valley, Junior Jerrene Richardson is coming to Bellevue from Fresno City College and junior Khalilah Holloway is transferring from North Iowa Area Community College.

Hill averaged 9.3 points per game for Ohio Valley and led the team in three-pointers made, steals and three-point percentage.

Richardson will provide scoring and rebounding help for the Bruins. Richardson averaged 16.8 points per game and 4.7 rebounds per game. She was also first team all-conference and second team all-state for the Rams.

Holloway will also help provide rebounding relief, after averaging 6.3 rebounds per game last season. She has totaled seven career double-doubles and will look to build upon that with Bellevue this season.

This is the fourth season for head coach Dave Denly, who has put together an impressive record of 58-38 overall and 31-15 in the NSAA. James Benford returns as his assistant for the fourth season and Mercedees Morgan returns for her second season.

Bellevue received 31 votes in the NAIA preseason poll after making their top 25 debut last season.

The Bruins started their season with a loss to Oklahoma Wesleyan, but bounced back with two-straight wins over McPherson and College of St. Mary.

Be the first to know when news happens. Get the latest breaking headlines sent straight to your inbox.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.