WNIT Preview: University of South Dakota Coyotes Host Creighton Bluejays
Last week's disappointment after falling to South Dakota State in the Summit League Tournament championship game is a distant memory for the University of South Dakota women's basketball team as they prepare for their WNIT opener against Creighton Thursday night.
Head coach Amy Williams and her team are trying to accentuate the positives heading into their fifth straight post season appearance, and there are a few:
- USD will host the game in the DakotaDome, as opposed to going on the road for an NCAA Tournament game. That's bad news for opponents who haven't posted a win in Vermillion on 14 tries this season.
- The Coyotes get extra games for their talented seniors Nicole Seekamp, Raeshel Contreras, and Lisa Loeffler.
- The coaching staff gets valuable extra practice time with the players that are returning next season.
Coach Williams says all of those factors have led to a very positive outlook for her team heading into the Creighton game:
The Coyotes (25-7) received an automatic bid, after winning the Summit League regular season championship, before losing to SDSU in conference tournament final.
The Bluejays (17-13) received an at-large berth, after finishing tied for fifth in the BIG EAST Conference. This is Creighton's eighth straight post season appearance. Their 2014 season ended with a WNIT loss at South Dakota State.
Creighton is led by junior Marissa Janning, who earned her second consecutive All-BIG EAST First Team selection, as well as the BIG EAST's most improved player, senior Alexis Akin-Otiko. Janning led the Creighton with 16 points per game, while Akin-Otiko led the Bluejays with six rebounds a game. Creighton also placed Sydney Lamberty on the Big East's All-Freshman team after she posted an assist-to-turnover ratio that was better than two-to-one, one of the best rates in the nation.
Coach Williams says it all starts with Janning, who scored 20 points last season against the Coyotes in Omaha, hitting 6-of-13 from the floor and a trio of three-pointers. The Bluejays won that game 63-48:
The Coyotes are led by seniors Nicole Seekamp and Raeshel Contreras. Seekamp is a three-time All-Summit League player, and MVP of the Summit League Tournament two out of the last three years. Contreras was a first team all-conference pick as well. She finished sixth in the Summit League in scoring, Seekamp was tied for seventh.
The game marks the USD's fifth straight postseason tournament appearance and the team's second WNIT tournament appearance. USD made the WNIT field during the 2011-12 season, beating Drake 61-53 in the tournament opener before losing to Colorado 64-55 in the second round.
Coach Williams says the preparation for the post season for her team was a lot simpler than in years past, because the Coyotes were guaranteed a bid in either the NCAA or WNIT by virtue of winning the Summit League regular season championship for the first time in school history:
Tipoff is 7:00 PM Thursday night in Vermillion.
This will be the 21st meeting between the two schools. Creighton leads the series 12-8, but the Coyotes hold the edge in Vermillion with five wins in eight games against the Bluejays.