Summit League Tournament Preview: Coyote Women Are #1 Seed, Play Denver in Round One
The 2016 Summit League Women's Basketball Tournament will start the same way it did last year for the South Dakota Coyotes. But this time around, USD is hoping for a different ending, after falling in the title game last season to South Dakota State.
The Coyotes (24-5/15-1) are once again regular season champions in the Summit, after running off 14 straight wins to close out a nearly flawless run through the conference.
USD finished first in the Summit League in scoring, three-point shooting percentage, offensive rebounding, rebounding margin, assists, and steals.
Senior Guard Nicole Seekamp is the Player of the Year in the conference after finishing second in scoring and free throw shooting, first in assists and three-point percentage, and third in steals.
Seekamp is part of a senior class (along with Kelly Stewart, Tia Hemiller, Margaret McCloud, and Heidi Hoff) at USD that has played in the Summit League Tournament Championship game in each of the last three seasons, winning it all in 2014.
The Coyotes bench played a big role in this season's success. USD reserves are averaging 30 points per game in 2016, led by sophomore Kate Liveringhouse's eight points and four rebounds a game.
Junior guard Caitlin Duffy is the conference's Transfer of the Year and is on the Summit League's All-Newcomer Team. The Colorado State transfer started all 16 conference games, averaging seven points and four rebounds. She was second in the Summit in assist -to-turnover ratio.
Top seeded South Dakota plays #8 Denver in Saturday's tournament opener.
The Coyotes swept the Pioneers (5-24/3-13) during the regular season, winning by an average of 34 points. Denver was decimated by injuries much of the year, with an average of 35 points per game missing at least nine games. A couple of those players are expected to be back in the lineup.
Denver is led by a talented back court featuring senior Paige Bradley and junior Jacqlyn Poss. Bradley, a first team all-conference pre-season selection, finished in the top ten in the league in scoring, three-point shooting, assists, and fewest turnovers. Bradley hit five three-pointers in one half in a game against USD this season. Poss averages 10 points per game.
Tipoff is Noon Saturday, at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls.
I talked with USD's Amy Williams, the Summit League's Coach of the Year for the second straight year, about the match-up with Denver and last week's wins over Fort Wayne and IUPUI: