PREVIEW: South Dakota WBB set to open season tonight against Drake

SD PawPrint_2C_whiteIt’s been 237 days (but really, who’s counting) since the South Dakota women’s basketball team saw their season end in the NCAA tournament – the school’s first as a DI program – at the hands of Stanford, who eventually made it to the Final Four.

Tonight the Coyote women will tip off their season at Drake. It’s the second time in three seasons the two teams have opened the season  at Knapp Center in Des Moines, IA. It’s the third straight season the teams have played. Two years ago the Coyotes edged Drake on the road 74-69. Last season the Bulldogs were victorious in overtime 89-81 in a game played at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. 

Both teams return four starters from last season. And both have high expectations. Drake was selected third in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason, while the Coyotes were picked second in the Summit League – behind in-state rival South Dakota State.

About South Dakota:
Head Coach: Amy Williams enters her third season as the head coach at South Dakota. She has led the Coyotes to two straight Summit League championship games and a 38-30 record in two seasons. Williams is 135-95 as a head coach after spending five seasons at Rogers State, an NAIA school in Oklahoma.

Returners: The Coyotes return many key pieces from last year’s NCAA tournament team. Leading scorer Nicole Seekamp is back for her senior campaign. Seekamp needs just 46 points to join the 1,000 point club. The Coyotes also return starting point guard Tia Hemiller, who led the team in rebounds last season, and Raeshel Contreras, who is no stranger to long range shots after attempting 182 3-point shots in her first season as a Coyote. Senior Lisa Loeffler has started 51 straight games for South Dakota entering the season. Margaret McCloud will start her first career game in the season opener after playing in 63 games at South Dakota off the bench. Heidi Hoff, who started the first 12 games last season, returns this season after suffering a season-ending knee injury against College of St. Mary. The Coyotes look for big seasons from reserves Kelly Stewart and Bridget Arens.

New players: Three new players joined the Coyotes this season, but only one will be active. Kate Liveringhouse is the only freshman on roster. She helped Bellevue West (Neb.) to two runner-up finishes at Class A state basketball tournament. Caitlin Duffy (Colorado State) and Abigail Fogg (American) will sit out this season after transferring to South Dakota.

By the numbers:
3 – Three Coyotes have a chance to score their 500th career point this season – McCloud needs 23, Loeffler needs 67 and Contreras needs 78.
7 – South Dakota has started 2-5 in first seven games both seasons under Amy Williams.
63 – Nicole Seekamp and Margaret McCloud have both played in 63 games for the Coyotes. Seekamp has started in 60 of those games, while McCloud will start for the first time tonight.

South Dakota opens it’s season tonight at Drake before traveling to Kansas on Sunday. The Coyotes will head West next week for a game at Portland State on Wednesday and Washington on Thursday.

About Drake:
Head Coach: Jennie Barancyzk enters her third season as the head coach at Drake. After 11 wins in her first season the Bulldogs went 17-15 last year and 9-9 in league play. She has led the Bulldogs to a 28-35 mark in two seasons.

Returning players: The Bulldogs are led by two stars, Lizzy Wendall and Kyndal Clark. The two combined for 1,152 points, while the rest of the Bulldogs combined for 1,121 points last season. Both were 1st team All-MVC selections, while Clark earned the conference player of the year award and Wendall was freshman of the year. Liza Heap, Carly Grenfell and Caitlin Ingle look to add support to the dynamic duo. Emma Donahue is back after a career game against South Dakota last season, where she scored a new high 13 points and grabbed a career-best five rebounds. The Bulldogs as a team made 287 3-point field goals last season.

New players: Drake has three freshmen on roster this season including Paige Greiner, who was the Iowa Basketball Coaches Association 3A player of the year in high school and Becca Jones, who won the DiRenna Award which is given to the top high school girls player in the Kansas City metro. Maddy Dean also joins the team after averaging 30 points and 12 rebounds as a high school senior last season. Cortni Rush is a transfer from North Iowa Area Community College.

Drake has three games on schedule next week with road games at Iowa State and SIUE before returning home to play Wisconsin.

Season series:
The Bulldogs hold a 5-2 edge over South Dakota. The programs are meeting for the fourth straight season, including one postseason meeting in the WNIT.

Game info:
South Dakota vs Drake, 7:00pm
Knapp Center, Des Moines, IA

Game broadcast: The game will be heard online only due to conflicts with USD MBB and 11AA high school football championship. You can hear the game tonight by clicking here. The game will be rebroadcast on Classic Hits 106.3 immediately following South Dakota men’s basketball at Utah Valley.

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