Basketball, 1988-92; Basketball Assistant Coach, 1994-02
Inducted February 6, 1999
Karen Rapier put together an outstanding career in her four seasons playing for the SMS Lady Bears in basketball, capped by the 1991-92 SMS team which reached the NCAA Tournament Final Four. A native of Jefferson City, Mo., Rapier was the first player to sign with the Lady Bears after Cheryl Burnett took over as SMS head coach in 1987, and Rapier helped take SMS to Gateway Conference championships and NCAA Tournament berths her final two seasons with a 26-5 record in 1990-91 and a 31-3 mark in 1991-92. SMS was 83-36 during Rapier’s playing career. Rapier led SMS in scoring (13.1) and rebounding (7.3) as a freshman in 1988-89. As a sophomore, she averaged 8.0 points and 4.3 rebounds a game as SMS was 12-0 at home and 19-8 overall. Rapier was a first team all-Gateway pick as a junior in 1990-91, averaging 14.0 points and 6.4 rebounds a game. SMS was 26-5 overall and won its first outright Gateway championship. During her senior season in 1991-92, Rapier was a team co-captain and a preseason Street and Smith’s All-America honorable mention pick. She collected all-conference honorable mention honors, averaging 10.8 points and 4.6 rebounds a game, and was named to the NCAA Midwest Regional All-Tournament team. SMS upset top-seeded Iowa in the regional second round and then bested UCLA and Mississippi in the semifinals and finals to reach the Final Four in Los Angeles. SMS was beaten by Western Kentucky in the national semifinals but the Lady Bears’ final 31-3 mark was the best in school history and SMS added to its Gateway title with a final season ranking of fourth in the nation by USA Today. Rapier closed her career as the all-time SMS leader in games played with 118, and ranked 5th in career rebounds (666), 5th in points (1,365), 6th in steals (123) and 6th in field goal accuracy (.513) at the time she graduated. She was named to the SMS women’s basketball All-Decade team in 1992 in conjunction with Gateway celebration of its 10th anniversary. Rapier received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the SMS College of Business Administration in 1992 and graduated from SMS in 1993. She returned to her alma mater in 1994 as an assistant coach on Burnett’s basketball staff and helped SMS to six additional NCAA tournament appearances.