One of the trademarks of a Joe Mathews’ coached team is its “never give up” attitude. The 2011-12 Tigers certainly lived up to that billing as the Tigers got the game-winning or game-tying basket in the final minute of play seven times.
The “Cardiac Cats” got contributions from all over the roster in those wins including overtime victories against Georgia State and George Mason.
Mathews also coached senior guard Krystal Parnell to third team All-Colonial Athletic Association honors. The Tigers finished the 2011-12 season with a 16-14 record, their fourth winning season in the last six years.
Despite coaching a fairly young squad two years ago, Mathews led the Tigers to several big wins including a victory over CAA power VCU in the Towson Center. The 2010-11 Tiger line-up featured just one starter from the previous season and the squad made progress towards season’s end. The Tigers nearly pulled off a second-half comeback against Drexel in the CAA Championship Tournament.
Mathews coached the Tigers to 15 wins three years ago, including an upset of No. 25 Maryland at home and the program’s first ever win over Old Dominion which took place in Norfolk.
He also led the Tigers to their first Division I postseason appearance when the Tigers participated in the Women’s Basketball Invitational in March.
Mathews led the Tigers to a 17-13 mark during the 2008-09 season for their third consecutive winning season as they advanced for a repeat appearance in the CAA Quarterfinals. The Tigers also posted a pair of huge regular season wins, at Richmond and against James Madison.
In 2007-08, the Tigers finished with a 22-10 record. The 22 wins were among the top 50 totals in the country. It was the first 20-win season in school history and included Towson’s longest win streak ever at 10 in a row. The Tigers also posted the most road wins ever with 13.
The Tigers won a CAA Tournament game during the 2007-08 season for the first time in program history. They followed it up with another win in the next round and advanced to the CAA semi-finals for the first time.
This was a strong follow-up to the 2006-07 season when Towson was 17-12. The Tiger women’s basketball program has ranked among the top 75 in the country for most wins in three of those five seasons.
Mathews led the Tigers to the best turnaround in CAA history during the 2004-2005 campaign, posting a 16-14 record while earning a .500 record in conference play. This came just one year after the Tigers posted a 9-19 mark in 2003-2004.
Prior to being named as the Tigers’ eighth head coach in May, 2001, Mathews was an important part of the growth of the Virginia Tech women’s basketball program. An assistant for Coach Bonnie Henrickson for four seasons, Mathews helped Tech compile a 92-33 record and increase home attendance to nearly 3,000 fans per game.
During Mathews’ first season at Virginia Tech in 1997-1998, the Hokies had the biggest turnaround in the program’s history. Tech posted a 22-10 record and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a stunning win over 23rd-ranked Wisconsin in the first round. In addition, the Hokies won their first Atlantic 10 Conference championship, beating Massachusetts in the championship game.
The following year, the Hokies had the best season in school history with a 28-3 mark, including an 18-game win streak to begin the year. The Hokies were runners-up to Xavier in the conference tournament and made their second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Virginia Tech was selected as a first and second round site for the NCAA Tournament that season as the Hokies hosted St. Peter’s, Auburn and Texas. The Hokies advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time after beating St. Peter’s and Auburn. Virginia Tech’s season ended with a loss to second-ranked Tennessee in the regional semi-finals.
In 1999-2000, the Hokies posted their third straight 20-win season, finishing with a 20-11 record. The Hokies earned a berth in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, defeating Georgia State in the first round before losing to Maryland.
During Mathews’ final year at Virginia Tech, the Hokies made their debut in the Big East Conference and did very well, earning an 11-5 conference record and a fourth-place finish. Reaching the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four years, the Hokies beat Denver in the first round before losing to Texas.
Mathews served as Tech’s recruiting coordinator during his four seasons and also tutored the team’s post players. He was named as one of the top 20 assistant coaches by The Women’s Basketball Journal twice.
Prior to his stint at Virginia Tech, Mathews was an assistant for Coach June Olkowski at Butler University for three years, helping the Bulldogs to three consecutive 20-win seasons.
In three seasons at Butler, he helped the team compile a 59-26 record. During the 1995-1996 season, the Bulldogs won the Midwestern Collegiate Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
A native of Stanley, Virginia, Mathews began his coaching career at a young age, serving as an undergraduate assistant for Coach Charlene Curtis at Radford for the 1989-1990 season.
During the 1990-1991 season, he was promoted to the position of part-time assistant coach for Radford’s new coach, Lubomyr Lichonczak.
A 1991 graduate of Radford, Mathews graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Health and Physical Education and a Psychology minor.
Mathews remained as an assistant coach at his alma mater until 1994, serving as the Highlanders’ recruiting coordinator while directing the team’s summer camp. He also assisted in all areas of scouting, on-floor coaching and strength and conditioning. During Coach Mathews’ tenure at Radford, the Highlanders became the dominant team in the Big South Conference, winning five straight conference titles. In his final season at Radford, the Highlanders reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the program’s history.
As an assistant coach, he helped the team compile a 241-117 record in 12 seasons and helped his teams reach the 20-win mark nine times.
He has been a part of eight conference championship teams and six have reached the postseason.
Mathews resides in the Towson area with his wife, the former Lorie O’Brien, and their daughters, Riley Elizabeth and Reese Katherine.