Remarkably, both teams also did it with new head coaches. The Belles welcomed Kevin Baker in April 2015 to develop a program that was coming off its first losing season in five years. The Rams also ushered in a new era as Cinco Boone was promoted to head coach after two years as an assistant.
“It was a true challenge,” Baker said. “I had seen Angelo State basketball when it was really good, and the program wasn’t in that type of shape when I got here. I felt obligated and motivated to help bring it back to that level.”
The Belles had previously appeared in eight NCAA tournaments, but not since 2007–08. The Rams had been on the rise, advancing to the NCAA Division II Sweet 16 for the first time in 2014–15, and were looking to build on that success.
“It was a very exciting year,” Boone said. “Anytime you take over a program there is pressure, especially when there has been success before. You really want to follow in their footsteps and be successful.”
Both teams provided excitement for ASU fans and a renewed winning attitude. The Belles posted a 24-8 record, their best since 2007–08, and won the Lone Star Conference Tournament. They also beat No. 1 West Texas A&M three times. The Rams went 25-7, notching their second-most wins ever in a single season. When the NCAA D-II Tournament selections were announced, both teams had made it to the “big dance” for the first time in school history.
“I think it is great that the women’s program is successful and that the entire department is doing very well,” Boone said. “It helps when both teams have winning records. People understand Angelo State is going to bring two tough teams. It is good for both programs and the university.”
Making their ninth overall appearance at the NCAA D-II Tournament, the Belles beat Colorado School of Mines in the first round. It was just the third time the Belles have won a postseason game. Meanwhile, the Rams continued their success with another run to the NCAA D-II Sweet 16.
“There is a camaraderie between the two programs. We want the men’s program to do really well, and we pull for each other.”
“There is a camaraderie between the two programs,” Baker said. “We want the men’s program to do really well, and we pull for each other. It helps when the men’s team is playing well and vice versa. I think both Cinco and I prefer that each team is winning and playing well.”
“Every program at Angelo State is winning,” Boone said. “The administration and university care about the success of each program, and hopefully it continues to fuel future success.”