2016-17 Women's Basketball
Record: 27-2 Home: 17-0 Away: 8-1 Neutral: 2-1 GSAC: 15-1
2016-17 Women's Basketball Coaches
Russ Davis Image
Russ Davis
Head Coach
21st Season

Russ Davis, four-time NAIA Coach of the Year, led the Lions to the 2008 NAIA National Championship and is a member of the Vanguard University Hall of Fame.

Davis enters the 2016-17 season with an overall record of 525-129 and he is first in active NAIA coaches with overall career winning percentage (0.802). His squads have captured 11 GSAC titles and he personally has nine GSAC Coach of the Year awards under his belt. Additionally, he is the all time leader in wins and winning percentage for the GSAC. 

Davis' teams at VUSC have averaged more than 26 wins and less than 7 losses per season during his years with the program, while becoming one of the strongest women's basketball programs within the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

In all, Davis' teams at Vanguard have made 18 trips to the NAIA National Tournament. The Lions have made four final four appearances (2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008) at the NAIA Division I Women's Basketball Championships, finishing third the first three times before winning the National Championship in 2008. Davis and his squads have been to the Elite 8 nine times during his coaching tenure.

Coach Davis has 30 wins at the NAIA national tournament, ranking him the highest of any active coach. His teams have appeared in 171 straight national polls—dating back to 2002, and Davis’ Lions have been ranked No. 1 in the nation 41 times. Vanguard women’s basketball, under Davis, ranks third in the history of the NAIA in overall number one rankings in coaches’ polls (behind Union and Oklahoma City).

Union and Vanguard are the only programs to have spent an entire season ranked #1: Vanguard in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007.

Vanguard also holds the GSAC record for the most conference victories in a single season, going undefeated (20-0) in GSAC games in back-to-back seasons from 2005-07.

Five of Davis’ players have been voted as National Players of the Year: 2005, Lisa Faulkner; 2006, Kelley Schmidt; 2007, Jessica Richter; 2010, Bridgette Reyes; 2014, Nicole Ballestero. No other coach in the NAIA has produced five POY’s.

Vanguard has had 14 First-Team All-Americans and 59 NAIA Scholar Athlete All-Americans under Russ Davis.

Davis is the only head women’s basketball coach in NAIA with a Nike contract.

Named the RUSSELL ATHLETIC/WBCA (Women's Basketball Coaches Association) National NAIA Coach of the Year award in 2005 and 2009, and RUSSELL ATHLETIC/WBCA's Coach of the Year for the West Region in 2006, Davis earned the NAIA's National Coach of Character in 2007 and added the NAIA Coach of the Year to his accolades in 2008.

Davis came to Vanguard University with a reputation of being one of the top high school coaches in California. "I have really enjoyed coaching at Vanguard University," says Davis. "The Lord brought me here and is blessing me every day."

Coach Davis has well over 35 years of coaching experience. He began coaching women in 1991 at Woodbridge High School after being an assistant to the men's program at Woodbridge from 1982 to 1991. After the 1991 season, Estancia High School hired Davis, and he completely revamped the Estancia program before leaving after the 1995-96 season to be an assistant coach at Vanguard. Currently, Davis also coaches the Nike Cal Swish girls' club team of Orange County, winners of the 2009 Nike National Championships, during the summer and was chosen to coach at the 2005 USA Basketball Women's Junior National Team Trials in Colorado. Davis was also selected as a court coach in 2009 for USA basketball World University Games.

As a high school coach, he was the CIF, State Division II and Orange County Register Coach of the Year in 1991. In 1992 the Costa Mesa Daily Pilot honored him as Coach of the Year and twice was selected to be the head coach of the Orange County All Star game. 

While establishing an outstanding reputation for the VU Women's Basketball Team throughout the NAIA ranks, Davis has also become a well-known figure among his coaching peers. Russ is a National Rater for the NAIA, and previously served as President and Vice President for the NAIA Women's Basketball Coaches Association. He is also a member of the NAIA All-American committee.

He is also on the Kodak Women's Basketball All-America Committee and has served on of the Board of Directors for the WBCA since 2005.

At Vanguard, Davis is a Champions of Character Instructor. Davis is single and lives in Costa Mesa, CA. 

Jana Pearson Image
Jana Pearson
Assistant Coach
3rd Season

At Vanguard, Pearson serves as the lead assistant for the women's basketball program. The squad was awarded 2014-2015 NAIA Champions of Character Team Award.

Pearson, a native of Hatley, Miss., played four seasons at Harding (Ark.) University (2003-2007) before transitioning into the role of graduate assistant from 2007-2009 with the NCAA Division II program.

Before coming to Vanguard, Pearson spent four years as the assistant coach for the Freed-Hardeman University Lady Lions under the helm of Coach Dale Neal. While there Pearson helped Coach Neal lead the Lady Lions to a record of 125-19, two final four appearances in 2011 and 2013, and National runner-ups in 2014. 

Pearson holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and a Master of Science in Counseling, both from Harding University.

Her parents, Alan and Brenda, are both former coaches and reside in Amory, Mississippi, as does her younger brother Brian, wife Sara Beth and their son Parker. 

Leigha Bednar Image
Leigha Bednar
Assistant Coach
3rd Season

Leigha went to Fossil Ridge High School in Keller, Texas before being recruited to the United States Air Force Academy. She then transferred to Vanguard during the second semester of her freshman year in 2011.

While a Lion, she was a 2 time NAIA and GSAC Scholar Athlete. After completing her senior basketball season, she threw shot-put, discus, hammer, and javelin  with the track team at Vanguard. During her senior season, Vanguard was ranked #1 the entire season and won the GSAC conference. 

She graduated from Vanguard cum laude with a B.A. in Psychology in 2014 and is currently working towards her Masters in Speech/Language Pathology.

In addition to coaching, Leigha is also is a NJB referee in her 4th season.

Her family includes parents Mike and Pam, as well as brothers Stephen and Ryan.