Dowling Returns to Pepperdine as Women’s Basketball Coach

Former Pepperdine women’s basketball assistant coach Kristen Dowling, who has had a tremendously successful run at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps the past seven years, will return to Malibu as the eighth head coach in program history, the University announced today.

“Pepperdine Athletics exists to further our institution’s Christian mission, to provide an enriching, rewarding experience for our student-athletes that results in graduation, and to compete for championships,” Pepperdine Director of Athletics Dr. Steve Potts said. “Kristen Dowling gives us a perfect fit for those objectives. She brings a strong Christian faith, a true commitment to our student-athlete’s well-being as a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Redlands, and is dedicated to building a championship-caliber women’s basketball program. We are excited to have Kristen leading our women’s basketball program for many years to come.”

Dowling posted a 147-46 (.762) record as the head coach of the Division III Athenas, including six straight 20-win seasons and at least a share of six consecutive SCIAC regular-season championships. Her squads won the SCIAC Tournament four consecutive years between 2014 and 2017 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament each time.

“I am elated to lead the Pepperdine women’s basketball program,” Dowling said. “I want to thank President Benton, President-Elect Gash, Steve Potts and Karina Herold for entrusting me with the leadership of this program. Pepperdine’s Christian mission and commitment to academic and athletic excellence are core to who I am, and makes this an absolute dream come true. I am excited to get to know the current team, compete with purpose and build upon their success. The future of Pepperdine women’s basketball is incredibly bright.

“I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to CMS Athletics, President Chodosh, Mike Sutton and my former players and coaches for believing in me and their tireless dedication to the program. A sincere thank you to the entire CMS community for their genuine support and friendship. Finally, a special thank you to my family and friends for their years of encouragement, support and love.”

Her first team at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps posted a 9-16 record in 2012-13, but she turned the program around quickly and recorded a school-record 24 wins in 2013-14. The Athenas hit 24 two more times since then and had at least 23 wins in five of the last six seasons. She led Claremont-Mudd-Scripps to its first NCAA Tournament victory in 2016, and the Athenas again won a first-round game in 2017.

Dowling was named SCIAC Coach of the Year in 2015. Over seven years, she posted a 93-19 (.830) record in conference play, with a remarkable 88-8 (.917) record the past six seasons. Her student-athletes won two SCIAC Player of the Year awards and were named to the All-SCIAC first team 10 times.

This will be Dowling’s third stint at Pepperdine. She was a graduate assistant and academic advisor during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons, then returned as an assistant coach for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 campaigns, all under former head coach Julie Rousseau. The Waves went 32-27 during the 2011 and 2012 seasons, and placed third in the West Coast Conference in 2011 and advanced to the WNIT.

In between those two stays at Pepperdine, Dowling worked as an assistant coach at CSU Bakersfield for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons. The Roadrunners went 35-23 those two years and made their first-ever Division I postseason appearance in the 2010 Women’s Basketball Invitational.

Dowling is a 2004 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Redlands, earning a bachelor’s degree in Spanish with a minor in physical education. As a student-athlete, she helped the Bulldogs to their second-ever SCIAC title in 2004 and a WBCA Class Act Achievement Award.

Dowling also earned a master’s degree from Pepperdine in educational technology in 2007.

She is a graduate of Nike’s “So You Want to Be a Coach” program, as well as the NCAA Women’s Coaches Academy. In 2018, she served as an on-court coach for the USA Basketball U17 World Cup Team Trials.

Dowling takes over a program that was on the rise under Delisha Milton-Jones. The Waves went 22-12 last season, tied for third place in the WCC (the best showing since 2011), made the WCC Tournament semifinals (for the first time since 2010) and won the program’s two first postseason games in the modern era, making it to the Round of 16 in the WNIT. The Waves are slated to return three starters and seven letterwinners, including four of the top five scorers. Returners account for 50% of last year’s scoring.