Billikens Receive Coaches’ Nod to Repeat as A-10 Champs
RICHMOND, Va. – Following the most successful season in program history, Saint Louis has been predicted to win the 2016-17 Atlantic 10 Conference women’s basketball title in balloting conducted by A-10 head coaches. The announcement was made Tuesday during A-10 Women’s Basketball Media Day festivities at the Richmond Marriott.
Also, junior guard Jackie Kemph and senior center Sadie Stipanovich were selected to the preseason All-Conference first and second teams, respectively. Kemph was named A-10 co-Player of the Year last season, while Stipanovich earned third-team All-Conference plaudits.
Fifth-year head coach Lisa Stone, the 2015-16 A-10 Coach of the Year, welcomes back three starters and seven additional players from last year’s team that claimed a share of the A-10 regular-season crown, captured a school-record 26 victories (26-8) and reached the WNIT third round.
Saint Louis received nine of 14 first-place votes and collected 191 points. Duquesne garnered three first-place votes and tied Dayton for second place with 166 points, while George Washington snared two first-place votes and finished fourth with 157 points. SLU, Duquesne and George Washington tied for last year’s regular-season title with 13-3 conference records.
VCU (148 points) was fifth, with Fordham (117) and Richmond (108) rounding out the top half of the 14-team league. Saint Joseph’s (94) was eighth, followed by Rhode Island (78), St. Bonaventure (68), George Mason (64), La Salle (49), Davidson (42) and Massachusetts (22).
Last year, Kemph became the first Billiken women’s basketball All-American when she was included on the Associated Press honorable-mention list. She finished among the A-10’s top five in seven statistical categories including points per game (16.6) and assists per game (7.0, third in the nation), and she set a SLU single-season record with 239 assists.
Stipanovich led last year’s team with 6.0 rebounds and 2.3 offensive rebounds per game and was second to Kemph in scoring with 11.7 points per game. She ranked third in the A-10 in field goal percentage (.509).
Also returning from the 2015-16 squad that ranked among the top 32 teams in NCAA Division I in seven statistical categories are senior forwards Olivia Jakubicek and Erin Nelson; junior guards Aaliyah Covington and Jenny Vliet; junior forwards Maddison Gits and Shea Shipman; sophomore guard Jordyn Frantz; and sophomore center Tara Dusharm.
Junior guard Paige Rakers and sophomore guard Kerri McMahan are eligible after sitting out last season following transfers from Michigan and Akron, respectively. Forwards Hannah Frazier and Kendra Wilken make up the freshman class.
The coaches’ poll is the second prediction of a Saint Louis conference championship. Earlier this month, the website College Sports Madness selected the Billikens to win the A-10 and make their first-ever NCAA Championship appearance. CSM lists the Bills No. 38 in its preseason Top 44 and projects them as a No. 10 seed in the 64-team NCAA bracket.
Saint Louis welcomes Maryville to Chaifetz Arena for an exhibition game Nov. 4 before opening the regular season with two games in California. SLU faces UC Irvine Nov. 11 and Loyola Marymount Nov. 13 prior to the Nov. 17 home opener vs. SIUE.To purchase tickets, click here or call the Billiken Ticket Office at (314) 977-4SLU. Season tickets and single-game tickets are available.