2017-18 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
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2017-18 Women's Basketball Coaches
Dale Neal Image
Dale Neal
Head Coach - 24th Season
Harding University
731-989-6903

Dale Neal begins his 48th year of coaching and his 24th season at the helm of the Lady Lion basketball program, having compiled a record of 639-172 and a winning percentage of .787 at FHU.

The Lady Lion basketball program has advanced deep into the NAIA National Tournament the past four seasons under the direction of Coach Neal. This past season, the Lady Lions boasted an undefeated record during the regular season and captured the American Midwest Conference Tournament Championship for the third time since joining the AMC in 2013. The Lady Lions eventually fell to No. 10 Campbellsville University in the NAIA National Tournament Quarterfinal round to end their season with a 35-1 record. Coach Neal was awarded the WBCA/NAIA National Coach of the Year following the 2016-17 season as a result of his accomplishments throughout the season.

During the 2015-16 season, the Lady Lions compiled a 27-8 record on the season and 20-4 record in American Midwest Conference Play. The Lady Lions ended the 2015-16 season as the AMC Tournament runner-up and also advanced to the second round of the NAIA National Tournament.

During the 2013-14 season, the Lady Lions compiled a 36-2 record and advanced to the NAIA National Tournament Championship Game. Following up their impressive season in 2013-14, the Lady Lions went 35-2 and advanced to the NAIA National Tournament Fab Four during the 2014-15 season.

Few programs in the NAIA have seen the levels of success and consistency that Neal has brought to Freed-Hardeman in the last 24 seasons. Over that time frame, the Lady Lions are one of only two programs to have won at least 20 games and competed in the NAIA National Tournament every year. Only three schools can claim each accomplishment by itself.

The Lady Lion basketball program instantly turned around when Neal came to Freed-Hardeman. In his first season in 1995, the Lady Lions finished a then school-record 21-9. Two years later, the team set a new record by winning 26 games and making the school's first ever appearance in the NAIA National Tournament and winning its first game, 76-63 over East Central Oklahoma.  
Since that time, Freed-Hardeman has been a fixture in both the NAIA Top 25 and the NAIA National Tournament.  The Lady Lions have made five total appearances in the Fab Four (1999, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014) and one national championship game (2014). They have also advanced to the national quarterfinals three times (2004, 2005, 2006) and won six conference championships (TranSouth: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2011, 2013; American Midwest: 2014)

After a record-setting season in 2012-13, the Lady Lions topped it in 2013-14 after going 36-2 and advancing to their first-ever NAIA National Championship game where they were edged by seven-time national champion Oklahoma City, 80-76.  FHU was ranked in the top 3 in every national poll except the pre-season poll.  The Lady Lions also captured the regular season and tournament championships in their first year as a member of the American Midwest Conference.

In 2012-13, the Lady Lions went 34-2 and spent much of the year as the No. 1 ranked team in the nation.  They also captured their fifth TranSouth Conference championship, going undefeated in both regular season play and the conference tournament.

During Neal’s tenure, the Lady Lions have boasted six TranSouth Conference Players of the Year, four American Midwest Conference Players of the Year and three WBCA/NAIA National Players of the Year (Jana Cross in 2009, Meribeth Boehler in 2011 and Hayley Newby in 2015).  FHU has a total of 26 All-American selections since 1999, including 13 first-team honorees.

Neal holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harding University ('69) and a Master of Physical Education degree from the University of Nebraska ('80). He coached the men's basketball team at York College in Nebraska for 11 years, where his teams combined record was 234-96 (.709), before coming to FHU. Neal received seven coach of the year awards, including an NJCAA Region IX Coach of the Year award, while at York.

Neal and his wife, Kathy, reside in Henderson and have four children and 13 grandchildren.

Brittany Cavender
Assistant Coach - 1st Season
Freed-Hardeman University
731-989-6908

Brittany "Montgomery" Cavender enters her first season as Assistant Coach for the Lady Lion basketball program. Originally from Reagen, Tenn., Cavender was a member of the Lady Lion basketball program from 2010 to 2014, where she was an AMC All-Conference performer her senior season while setting the school record for made three-point field goals in a game with 11.

Following graduation in 2014, Cavender served as a Graduate Assistant for the Lady Lions during the 2015-16 season. Currently, she is pursuing her Master's Degree in Education at FHU.

Prior to her arrival back at FHU as Assistant Coach, Cavender served as the Head Junior Varsity Coach at Scotts Hill Elementary School for the 2015-16 season and most recently served as an Assistant Coach at Jackson Christian School for the 2016-17 season.

Dale Neal, head coach for the Lady Lion basketball program, said Cavender is a great fit for the Assistant Coaching position.

"I am thrilled to have Brittany join our basketball staff," Neal said. "I am confident she will bring the same work ethic and knowledge of the game that she demonstrated when she was a Lady Lion player."

Cavender and her husband Jerelle reside in Henderson, Tenn. and they have one daughter named Alexa, who is three years old.