Bellaire native leads N. Alabama to impressive win

FLORENCE, AL. — Missy Tiber is building something special on the hardwood in the heart of football country.

The former Bellaire High hoop standout is in her sixth season as head coach of the University of North Alabama women’s basketball team. Tiber transformed the Lions into a NCAA Division II force, including last season’s 24-5 campaign.

North Alabama, however, is moving up the collegiate athletic ladder, now playing as a Division I institution, a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference.

The Lions made their initial voyage into the D-I waters an impressive one, defeating SEC power Vanderbilt, 74-71, Tuesday night in Nashville in a mutual season opener.

“We were confident going into the game. I have a good bunch,” Tiber said. “But realistically, we knew Vanderbilt was bigger, faster and a very talented team. So, I am very proud of how we performed. We never cracked.

“Our school is located about two hours south of Vanderbilt. We had a real nice crowd supporting us. After the game we stayed on the court in front of our fans. It was very historical for a lot of reasons. It was definitely a memorable night and one of my biggest coaching wins.”

Tiber is looking forward to the move to D-I basketball.

“It is good for the university but it will be a challenging transition. We have known about it for 18th months, so we started to tweak our recruiting to meet the demands of D-I basketball. We had two D-I transfers come last year knowing that they would be eligible because we were D-II at that time,” Tiber said. “The Atlantic Sun Conference is a strong, top-heavy conference, headlined by Florida Gulf Coast. They won their opening round game in the NCAA Tournament last year and gave Stanford a close game in the second round. I think we can come in and be competitive. Our goal is to make the conference tournament.

“I really like my team. We have four returning starters and start five juniors. They have finally figured it out,” the 46-year-old noted. “They play extremely hard, are coachable and a lot of fun to coach. I also have a great staff.”

That staff features another former West Liberty hoop great in Adrianne Harlow. The Tipton, Ind., native was a three-time All WVIAC honoree.

Tiber has scripted an impressive college coach resume.

Prior to coming to North Alabama, she was head coach at Southern Illinois University. She landed the Salukis’ post after an impressive stint at Tusculum College, where her teams went 86-34, including a sparkling 52-11 mark in her final two years.

The former West Liberty standout spent four seasons as the head coach at NCAA D-II Belmont Abbey College before heading off to Tusculum. At Belmont Abbey, she compiled an overall record of 81-36 and a conference mark of 61-19.

Tiber cut her coaching teeth at her alma mater under the highly successful Lynn Ullom. During her six years as a Hilltopper assistant, West Liberty averaged over 20 wins a campaign, winning four WVIAC tournament championships, three West Virginia regular season crowns and earning four NCAA Division II Tournaments berths.

She has amassed 280 career head coaching wins

North Alabama broke or tied five individual and four team school records last winter, including the most regular season wins in school history. The team returned to the NCAA Division II tournament for the first time since 2013 and also cracked the NABC Top 25 Poll for the first time in 24 years.

Tiber is a 1994 graduate of West Liberty State with a Bachelor of Science degree. She also has a master’s degree in sport leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University.


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