Cal State Monterey Bay tabs C.J. Pace as new Head Women’s Basketball Coach

A new era in Cal State Monterey Bay basketball officially begins as C.J. Pace (Univ. of South Carolina, ’10) becomes the seventh coach in CSUMB women’s basketball history. She joins the Otter raft after spending the last three seasons as the head coach at East Georgia State College.

Pace replaces Kerri Nakamoto, who resigned in March after five seasons at the Otter helm and is now the head coach at NCAA Division II West Region rival Alaska–Fairbanks.

“We are thrilled to welcome CJ to Cal State Monterey Bay and look forward to supporting her and her plan to position our program for competitive success,” says CSUMB Director of Athletics Kirby Garry. “CJ’s engaging personality and passion were evident and contagious to all involved in our search process. Her preparation was impressive. She gave us all a strong sense that she really wanted to be here and will bring the energy necessary to move our women’s basketball program forward.”

“I was looking for an opportunity to get completely out of my comfort zone and work towards putting a program back on the map,” says Pace. “The chance to get back to the Division II level and this time leading my own program was appealing. And the location of being on the beautiful coast of California was intriguing and a place I knew would be attractive to future student–athletes.”

Pace comes back to Division II basketball after a three–year absence. She spent the 2013–14 and 2014–15 seasons as an assistant coach at Armstrong State in Georgia. Her stint in Savannah includes a Peach Belt Conference East Division title and a run to the NCAA Division II Sweet 16 in 2014.

The Bobcats of East Georgia State enjoyed considerable success under Pace. The won 20 games in 2017 and advanced to consecutive GCAA Final Fours in 2017 and 2018. Pace earned 2017 GCAA Coach of the year honors with Bobcat sophomore Shunseere Kent earning player of the year accolades.

Before her coaching career, Pace started 24 games for Dawn Staley’s first team at the University of South Carolina where she helped lay the foundation for what has become one of the nation’s premier collegiate programs. She ranked among the SEC’s leading rebounds at 5.9 rebounds per game with finishing fourth on the team at 7.6 points per game in her senior season.

“CJ Pace is a tremendous hire for the Otters. Her experience at the junior college level has equipped her with the right blend of experience as a leader, coach and recruiter to succeed,” says South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley. “She has developed multiple players who have gone to have successful collegiate careers. Her passion for the game has been evident since she was a player. The Otters are getting a coach who has the ability to motivate and teach young women.”

Following her Gamecock career, she played two seasons of professional basketball, averaging 24 ppg for Santarem (Portugal) and 26 ppg for Misonès (Peru).

Pace began her coaching career as an assistant at Chipola College, where she starred as a freshman and sophomore for the Indians. She then spent a season at Georgia Perimeter College in Atlanta before moving on to Armstrong.

“We are confident that CJ will be strong role model and leader for our current and future student-athletes,” added Garry. “She will quickly become a valued ambassador for our department and university.”
Photo Courtesy Cal State Monterey Bay Athletics


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