South Dakota named Summit League women’s basketball favorites

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – South Dakota and senior center Hannah Sjerven were named The Summit League preseason favorite and Preseason Player of the Year, respectively, for the 2020-21 women’s basketball season. The league’s nine head coaches and sports information directors along with two media members from each school’s coverage area voted on the awards.

South Dakota, the 2019-20 regular season and tournament champion, topped the poll for the second-consecutive year after tallying 587 points. The Coyotes received 25 of the 36 first-place votes, while the remaining 11 went to in-state rival South Dakota State, who held down the second spot  (566 points; 11 first-place votes).

Sjerven averaged 12.2 ppg and 7.3 rpg to go with a league-leading 58.1 percent clip from the field last season. Joining her on the Preseason All-Summit League First team were teammate Chloe Lamb, Oral Roberts guard Keni Jo Lippe, Omaha forward Mariah Murdie and South Dakota State forwards Paiton Burckhard and Myah Selland.

The Preseason All-Summit League Second Team is made up of the South Dakota State forward duo of Tylee Irwin and Tori Nelson, South Dakota guard Monica Arens, North Dakota forward Julia Fleecs and Western Illinois forward Evan Zars.

Points for the preseason poll were compiled on a 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis, while all-league teams were compiled on an 11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. The top six vote-getters earned first-team honors and the next five were selected to the second team. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes or team.

2020-21 Preseason Summit League Player of the Year
Hannah Sjerven – South Dakota

Preseason All-Summit League First Team
Paiton Burckhard, South Dakota State, Jr., F (14.2 ppg/5.7 rpg/1.8 apg)
Chloe Lamb, South Dakota, Sr., G (11.2 ppg/3.3 rpg/1.5 apg)
Keni Jo Lippe, Oral Roberts, Sr., G (18.5 ppg/8.0 rpg/2.5 apg)
Mariah Murdie, Omaha, Jr., F (11.1 ppg/6.0 rpg/1.2 bpg)
Myah Selland, South Dakota State, Jr., F (13.8 ppg/5.0 rpg/3.0 apg)
Hannah Sjerven, South Dakota, Sr., F (12.2 ppg/7.3 rpg/2.0 bpg)*

Preseason All-Summit League Second Team
Monica Arens, South Dakota, Sr., G (9.3 ppg/3.9 rpg/1.8 apg)
Julia Fleecs, North Dakota, Jr., F (12.2 ppg/4.8 rpg/0.7 apg)
Tylee Irwin, South Dakota State, Sr., F (8.5 ppg/5.1 rpg/2.3 apg)
Tori Nelson, South Dakota State, So., F (9.7 ppg/3.9 rpg/1.0 spg)
Evan Zars, Western Illinois, Jr., F (9.1 ppg/9.3 rpg/1.5 bpg)

*Preseason player of the year automatically earns a spot on the first team

Preseason Poll

RankSchool (1st Place Votes)Points
1.South Dakota (25)587
2.South Dakota State (11)566
3.Western Illinois389
4.Oral Roberts376
5North Dakota State371
6.Kansas City323
8.North Dakota203

Preseason Summit League Notes

  • South Dakota enters the season coming off a 2019-20 campaign that saw the Coyotes become the first team in Summit League history to go undefeated en route to a league regular season title and capture the league tournament crown.
  • The Coyotes were ranked for a Summit League record 12 weeks in the Associated Press poll and 16 weeks in the USA Today Coaches’ poll. They finished the season No. 17 in the AP and No. 11 in the USA Today poll, which was the highest final ranking ever for a league member. 
  • The Coyote’s offense last season averaged 81.4 points per game (eighth in the NCAA) with a scoring margin of 25.7 points per game (sixth in the NCAA).
  • Denver ranked 18th in the nation averaging 77.6 points per game.
  • Kansas City rejoins The Summit League after a seven-year run as a Western Athletic Conference member. Kansas City, who was a league member from 1994-2013, won the program’s first regular season title in 2020, finishing the WAC regular season with a 13-3 record. The Roos did not compete in postseason play due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Sjerven finished her junior campaign by notching the individual accolades of Summit League Defensive Player of the Year and Summit League Championship MVP. She also secured a spot on the All-League First Team and Summit League All-Tournament Team.
  • Sjerven was one of four Coyotes to average double-figures on the season (12.2 ppg) while also leading the Coyotes in both rebounding (7.3) and blocks (2.0) per game
  • Murdie and Lamb were Second Team All-League performers last season while Lippe earned first-team honors. Sjerven and Burckhard look to be named to the first team for the third consecutive season.
  • Burckhard started all 32 contests that she appeared in during the 2019-20 season while leading the Jacks’ scoring efforts with 455 total points (14.2 ppg). She made a team-high 10.7 field goals per game thanks to a 53.4 field goal percentage clip while adding an average of 5.7 rpg to her stat line.
  • Lamb was one of three Coyotes to start all 32 games and averaged 11.2 ppg. She also chipped in 3.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game. She led the team in 3-pointers made with 57 while shooting at a league-leading 47.1 percent clip from beyond the arc.
  • Murdie appeared in 30 games for the Mavericks with 25 starts. She averaged a team-leading 11.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game during her sophomore year.
  • Lippe ranked in the top five of the league in three statistical categories last season. She finished second in the league in scoring with 18.7 ppg, fourth in rebounds (8.0 rpg) and fifth in field goal percentage (38.9).
  • Nationally, Lippe ranked second in free throw attempts (236) and free throws made (191).
  • Selland, who was named to the Preseason All-League First Team for the 2018-19 season, started in all nine games she appeared in before suffering a season-ending injury. She averaged 13.8 points, five rebounds and three assists per game in the nine contests.
  • Fleecs started all 30 games for North Dakota, leading the Fighting Hawks in scoring (12.2 ppg) and ranking second in rebounding (4.8 rpg). She finished ninth in the Summit League in scoring averaging 14.4 ppg in league games.
  • Arens started in 31 of 32 games for the Coyotes averaging 9.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. She led the team in charges taken with 32 and recorded 15 double-digit games, leading the team in scoring four times.
  • Irwin started 32 of the 33 contests she appeared in during the 2019-20 season. She ranked third on the team in points (282), field goals made (106), assists (77), rebounds (167), and rebounds per game (5.1).
  • Nelson, the 2020 Summit League Freshman of the Year, earned a spot in the starting lineup in 19 of the 29 contests she played in. She scored in double figures on 12 occasions and ranked third on the team in steals (30), blocks (22) and fourth in points per game (9.7).
  • Zars, the 2020 Summit League Newcomer of the Year, started all 30 games during her first season with Western Illinois. She was the team-leader in rebounds with 276 — a total that ranked second in the league. She also finished third in the league in rebounds per game (9.2).

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