by Isabel Marhoun
Staja Tygther, University of Tampa 2019 alumna, has signed a professional deal to play basketball overseas in Norway. She signed with Baerum Oslo of the Norwegian Basketball League (NBL). Tygther transferred to UT from Georgia State University.
While at UT, she was named first-team All-Sunshine State Conference as a senior, and during her junior year she was named to the second team. She led the women’s basketball team in scoring, with 12.9 points per game her senior year, leaving her responsible for 20.9% of the scoring load.
“Staja was a great player here for us,” said head coach, Tom Jessee. “She was a two time all conference player and was a match up problem for our opponents. She should be a top player in that league, and I expect her to move quickly up to even better leagues.”
During her entire college career, Staja totaled 1,000 collegiate career points spread between her time at Georgia and Tampa. She will start her career debut this winter with Baerum and the UT coaches are confident that she will perform well.
“Staja was one of the best athletes we have ever had at Tampa,” said assistant coach, Caitlyn Mitryk. “She had multiple skills that attributed to our successful season last year and to her all-conference honors. A hard worker, Staja was one of the most coachable players we have had. Staja will absolutely flourish for Baerum. She is considered ‘small’ for her forward position, but she is extremely strong and very skilled. She is a match up nightmare for her opponents.”
Staja is 5’8” and plays in the forward position. Although not the biggest for her position, her coaches describe her strength and presence on the court as something that makes her stand out. The 2018-2019 season while Staja played on the team was a successful season.
UT had a record of 22-9 out of conference games, while in conference they were 15-5. This ranked UT as the second team in the SSC conference, with Florida Southern taking first. Jessee describes how the women’s basketball program sets players up to play after college.
“My goal is always to get you graduated first and if your skill set is high enough then we reach out to one of our many contacts in the pro market overseas and get them involved with finding a place for you to sign and play,” said Jessee. “We won’t even discuss the pro route until we know you are set to graduate because you must have your degree so that when the pro play runs out you can return home and find a good job for yourself with the degree you got here at UT.”
The UT women’s basketball team is continuing to build players within the program. Staja describes how she initially got recruited and how she expects the 2019-2020 season to go for the Spartans.
“I got recruited through a former teammate that I played with back in high school and they put a word in for me and now I am here [playing for Baerum],” said Tygther. “I expect the team to carry on the good season we had in the previous years, if not carry it on to have a better season.”
The UT basketball program will kick off the 2019-2020 season with Midnight Madness on Sunday, Oct. 20 at 10:30 p.m. The women’s first game will take place on Friday, Nov. 8 in Tampa, FL at the Opening Weekend Spartan Crossover against Spring Hill College.
Isabel Marhoun can be reached at email@example.com