Before they knew exactly what a Billiken was, Emma and Sophia Nolan had a strong inkling they wanted to be ones.
The 6’1’’ twins, who continue to amend the Marquette Catholic girls’ basketball record book with each passing game, pledged their commitment to Atlantic-10 powerhouse Saint Louis University on Sunday afternoon.
“We felt an instant connection with (Saint Louis head women’s basketball) Coach Stone. Her energy is so infectious. In many ways, she reminded us of Coach K (Marquette head girls’ basketball coach Katie Collignon). We felt that she was recruiting us, and not just the basketball players. We knew without a doubt after watching a practice every player went 100% the whole time,” Emma said.
“Halfway through our visit, I leaned over to Emma and said: ‘I can see us here.’ During that practice, it was obvious the players hold each other accountable and looked as though they want to be there. We’re very excited to become Billikens and a part of their amazing program,” said Sophia.
Emma, who received Indiana Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) Underclass Small School All-State accolades this past March alongside Sophia, averaged 14.7 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game as a sophomore while shooting 48.3% from the field. She shot 83% from the free-throw line, the second-highest percentage of any Class 1A player in Indiana. Emma scored in double figures in 20 of Marquette’s 26 contests and amassed a team-best nine double-doubles. She enters the upcoming season with 798 points and 433 boards, 121 steals, and 126 blocks through her first two years. In the classroom, the junior owns a 4.07 grade-point average.
Sophia paced the Lady Blazers in scoring this past season at 18.2 points per game. She shot 38% from the perimeter and a remarkable 60% from inside the arc. In addition to averaging 7.0 rebounds per game, she snagged 2.0 steals and blocked 1.3 shots per game for the 2016-17 squad that made its first semistate appearance in program history. Her scoring average increased by 2.3 PPG and her rebounding average boosted 1.0 RPG from her freshman season to her sophomore campaign. She logged double-digit point totals in 23 of 26 tilts. Sophia possesses 922 career points, 351 rebounds, and 121 steals. A standout in the classroom as well, she touts a 4.10 grade-point average.
Saint Louis University, which will celebrate its bicentennial in 2018, is widely regarded as one of the most prominent and renowned Jesuit universities in the United States. SLU offers over 20 graduate and undergraduate programs ranked among the Top 100 in the country according to U.S. News & World Report. 99 percent of its tenured faculty hold the highest degree in their respective field.
On the hardwood, the Billikens are enjoying unparalleled success under head coach Lisa Stone (593-307 overall, 90-70 at SLU), who is in her sixth season at the helm of the program. SLU had not recorded a 20-win season until 2015-16 when it accumulated 26 victories. As a result, Stone was rewarded with A-10 Coach of the Year honors. For an encore, the Billikens registered a 25-9 mark this past winter, earning their second straight postseason bid in the process.