Lisa Stone arrived at Saint Louis University in May 2012 with a vision to build Billiken women’s basketball into a championship-caliber program.
Stone’s vision has come into clear focus in recent seasons. Saint Louis captured 83 victories – third most among Atlantic 10 Conference women’s basketball programs – tied for the 2015-16 A-10 regular-season championship and made three Women’s National Invitation Tournament appearances during the past four seasons.
Under Stone’s watch, the Billikens collected an impressive array of individual honors in 2018-19. Ciaja Harbison was selected A-10 Rookie of the Year and, along with Jordyn Frantz, landed on the All-Conference second team. Kerri McMahan was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year and earned a spot on the All-Academic list, while Brooke Flowers joined Harbison on the All-Rookie team and McMahan on the All-Defensive squad.
Harbison is the first Billiken to be named A-10 Rookie of the Year, while McMahan is Saint Louis’ first Defensive Player of the Year in any of the four conferences in which the program has held membership. SLU placed two players on the All-Rookie team for the first time and two players on the All-Defensive team for the first time. McMahan’s selection to the All-Academic team marked a fourth consecutive year a Billiken has earned inclusion in the five-player group
A demanding schedule in 2018-19 saw Saint Louis take on 11-time national champion Connecticut and nationally ranked Missouri at Chaifetz Arena. The Billikens posted impressive victories over A-10 regular-season co-champion VCU; archrival Dayton in the first triple-overtime game in SLU women’s basketball history; Duquesne, in the Bills’ first triumph over the Dukes in Pittsburgh; and Virginia in Charlottesville.
The 2017-18 season saw Stone achieve two coaching milestones. She recorded her 600th career victory when Saint Louis defeated St. Bonaventure 78-55 Dec. 31. Her 100th win on the Billikens’ bench was a 96-73 triumph over Saint Joseph’s Jan. 21.
Stone challenged the 2017-18 Billikens with a very difficult nonconference schedule. SLU battled four Southeastern Conference squads – Mississippi, LSU, Vanderbilt and Missouri – plus perennial Top-25 team DePaul and Pac-12 Conference opponent Washington State. The Billikens posted 17 wins and earned a third straight bid to the WNIT, where they faced another Power 5 conference team in Kansas State.
Under Stone’s tutelage, point guard Jackie Kemph cemented her place as the most-decorated player in Saint Louis women’s basketball history during the 2017-18 campaign. Kemph earned a spot on the All-Conference first team and the A-10 All-Academic team for a third consecutive year; set five Billiken career records; was a top-10 national finalist for the Senior CLASS Award; made the CoSIDA Academic All-District team for a second time; was one of only 10 women’s basketball student-athletes nationwide selected to the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association Scholar-Athlete Team; and became only the seventh player in NCAA Division I women’s college basketball history to set her school’s career marks in both points and assists.
The Billikens’ 25-9 mark in 2016-17 included wins over Power 5 conference programs Missouri and Washington State as well as a school-record 11 road victories. Saint Louis received votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll and the Associated Press Top 25 poll, and the Bills climbed to No. 4 in the ESPN mid-major national poll. SLU reached the second round of the WNIT.
Kemph was named A-10 Player of the Year for a second consecutive season and was joined on the All-Conference first team by senior center Sadie Stipanovich, giving the Billikens two first-team selections for the first time in program history. Saint Louis was the only A-10 basketball program, women or men, to place two players on the All-Conference first team.
Stone piloted the 2015-16 Billikens to a share of the A-10 regular-season crown, the first league title in team history. Saint Louis reached the A-10 Championship semifinals for the first time and advanced to the WNIT third round as the A-10’s automatic qualifier. The Billikens (26-8, 13-3 A-10) set program records for total victories, conference victories, overall winning percentage, conference winning percentage, conference winning streak, home wins and road wins, and they tied the team record for best start to a season.
One of SLU’s 26 wins was a triumph over No. 23 Duquesne, giving the Billikens a victory over a nationally ranked opponent for a second straight season. That decision was part of a 7-2 record in games decided by six or fewer points, including victories of one point and four points in the WNIT.
Stone was rewarded for the Billikens’ success by being named A-10 Coach of the Year and College Sports Madness High Major National Coach of the Year, becoming the first Saint Louis women’s basketball coach to earn Coach of the Year plaudits.
Kemph became the first Billiken women’s basketball player to earn All-America recognition (Associated Press honorable mention). She also was selected A-10 co-Player of the Year and garnered a first-team nod on the College Sports Madness All-High Major Team. Stipanovich and senior guard Jamesia Price landed on the All-Conference third team and the A-10 All-Defensive team, respectively, for a second consecutive year.
Stone coaches a group of young women who also are accomplished students. The Billikens placed among the top 15 on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll twice in recent seasons, finishing 15th (3.503 GPA) in 2015-16 and a program-best sixth (3.564 GPA) in 2014-15.
The Billikens’ success on the court during Stone’s tenure has translated into unprecedented interest in the program. Saint Louis drew a school-record 9,985 fans to its 2016 “Billikens Pink Out” game, one of 15 Chaifetz Arena crowds of at least 2,000 spectators during the past four campaigns. The Billikens led the A-10 in average attendance for conference games in three of the past four seasons, and in 2014-15, SLU experienced the 10th-largest attendance increase in NCAA Division I women’s basketball.
Stone’s team showed signs of what was to come during the 2014-15 season. Saint Louis won 15 games – at the time, the most for the Billikens in 12 seasons – and defeated No. 20 George Washington for the program’s first victory over a ranked opponent since 2002-03. The win over the Colonials, who came into the game with a 10-0 league record, was SLU’s second of the season when facing an undefeated A-10 leader. Earlier, the Billikens handed a 6-0 Fordham team its first conference loss of the year.
Under Stone’s guidance, Saint Louis produced its first All-Conference player (Stipanovich, third team) since 2009-10, its first-ever A-10 All-Defensive honoree (Price) and, for a second consecutive season, an A-10 All-Rookie selection (Kemph).
The 2013-14 Billikens rebounded to win seven of their last 12 games following a tough start. Saint Louis posted a solid 9-5 record at Chaifetz Arena, its best home mark in 11 years, and won three consecutive conference road games for the first time in program history.
Saint Louis’ 12-19 record in Stone’s first campaign (2012-13) belied the team’s competitiveness as nine of the Billikens’ losses, including four in A-10 play, were by seven or fewer points. Defense was the team’s calling card, with SLU allowing an average of fewer than 60 points per game (57.9) for the first time since the 1985-86 season. The Billikens held 11 opponents to fewer than 50 points, a school record; six of those 11 opponents were A-10 foes.
Saint Louis qualified for the A-10 Championship as the No. 11 seed and upset No. 6 Butler in the first round. In addition, the Billikens won six road games, twice as many as the previous two seasons combined. It was the first time since the 1985-86 season that SLU recorded six road victories.
Prior to her arrival at Saint Louis, Stone served eight seasons (2003-11) in charge at Wisconsin. She began her head-coaching career with a three-year stint at Cornell (Iowa) College, spent 12 seasons at Wisconsin-Eau Claire and had a three-year tenure at Drake.
“We are thrilled to have Lisa and her family join the Saint Louis University community,” Director of Athletics Chris May said upon Stone’s hiring. “Her successful career, which includes a commitment to academic success and winning at every level, speaks for itself.
“It is an exciting time for the Billikens as we welcome Lisa to SLU to lead the women’s basketball program in educating student-athletes, competing for championships and building community,” May said. “Lisa’s arrival, combined with SLU’s educational excellence, state-of-the-art facilities in Chaifetz Arena, the competitive Atlantic 10 Conference and a fertile recruiting base, makes SLU women’s basketball poised for success.”
“I am excited to be a part of the Billiken family,” Stone said. “Saint Louis University has an outstanding commitment to excellence, and I am thrilled to be part of an institution that strongly encourages its student-athletes to lead, learn and serve. The University offers academic prestige, outstanding facilities and a beautiful campus, plus an opportunity to compete in the very strong Atlantic 10 Conference.”
Stone guided Wisconsin to five postseason appearances, two 20-win campaigns and a 128-119 record that included a 95-68 mark in her final five seasons. In her fourth season (2006-07), the Badgers won a school-record 23 games (23-13) and finished second in the WNIT.
Following WNIT appearances the next two seasons, Wisconsin’s 2009-10 squad posted a 21-11 record, tied for third in the Big Ten Conference and earned an NCAA Tournament bid. Stone was rewarded by being named Big Ten Coach of the Year. The Badgers again tied for third in the Big Ten in 2010-11 and participated in the WNIT.
Wisconsin also excelled academically with Stone at the helm. Twenty-one players combined to earn 42 Academic All-Big Ten nods during her tenure.
Stone’s 64-27 record at Drake included a 42-12 Missouri Valley Conference ledger. She led the Bulldogs to a 23-7 record, an MVC regular-season co-championship and an NCAA Tournament berth in her first season (2000-01). Stone, whose 23 victories were the most by a first-year MVC women’s basketball coach, was tabbed the league’s Coach of the Year. The following season, Stone’s team went 25-8, achieved a No. 20 national ranking and reached the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.
The Drake program also flourished in the classroom under Stone’s leadership. The 2000-01 Bulldogs were ranked sixth on the WBCA Academic Top 25 Honor Roll, and the 2001-02 team garnered a No. 15 ranking on the prestigious list.
At NCAA Division III Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Stone turned around a program that had registered just one winning record prior to her arrival. Her teams tallied a 277-59 mark (159-33 in conference play), turned in 11 20-win seasons, reached the NCAA Tournament 11 times and captured six league crowns.
Stone’s 1996-97 squad was the national runner-up, and her 1993-94 team finished third in the nation. She was chosen the 1997 WBCA Division III National Coach of the Year, and in 2000 she was named D3 News/Molten Division III National Coach of the Year as the Blugolds posted a 28-1 record. A five-time Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, Stone was inducted into the UW-Eau Claire Blugold Hall of Fame in 2006.
Stone’s accomplishments at UW-Eau Claire led to her selection to the inaugural class of the WIAC Hall of Fame. Additionally, she was named the WIAC Women’s Basketball All-Time Co-Coach.
When Stone was named head coach at Division III Cornell College at age 22 in 1985, she was the nation’s youngest head basketball coach at a four-year institution. She collected a 34-32 record at Cornell and led the Rams to the Midwest Conference’s Southern Division title in each of her three years. Stone also served as the Rams’ head softball coach.
In addition to her collegiate coaching experience, Stone was a head coach in the 2001 WBCA All-Star Game as well as an assistant coach for gold-medal-winning Team USA at the 2002 World Championships for Young Women Qualifying Tournament in Brazil.
Stone holds a bachelor’s degree in physical education (1984) and a master’s degree in athletic administration (1986), both from the University of Iowa. A four-year standout at point guard under legendary head coach C. Vivian Stringer, she is 31st in points (1,129), tied for 10th in steals (177) and 14th in assists (322) on the Iowa career charts. Stone also owns a share of the Hawkeyes’ record for steals in a game (nine).
Stone was a three-time team captain and a two-time Hawkeye Most Valuable Player. As a senior, she won the Big Ten Medal of Honor as one of the top scholar-athletes in the conference and also captured the Iowa Student-Athlete of the Year award.
A native of Oregon, Wisconsin, Stone earned four letters each in basketball, tennis and track and field during her high school career. She helped lead Oregon to the Wisconsin Class A state basketball tournament in 1979 and 1980, and she earned first-team All-State honors as a senior and second-team recognition as a junior.
Stone and her husband, Ed, a certified public accountant, are the parents of a daughter, Allison, and a son, Tyler. Allie is a 2015 graduate of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where she was an All-Conference soccer player. Tyler, a four-year team manager for the Billikens, is a 2017 SLU graduate.