RICHMOND, Va. – Coming off a 25-win season and a second consecutive Women’s National Invitation Tournament appearance, Saint Louis has been predicted to finish second in the 2017-18 Atlantic 10 Conference women’s basketball race in balloting conducted by A-10 head coaches. The announcement was made Monday during A-10 Women’s Basketball Media Day at the Richmond Marriott.
Also, senior guard Jackie Kemph and junior guard Jordyn Frantz were selected to the preseason All-Conference first and third teams, respectively. Kemph has earned A-10 Player of the Year accolades the past two seasons, while Frantz enjoyed a breakthrough sophomore campaign.
Sixth-year SLU skipper Lisa Stone, who is in her 32nd season as a collegiate head coach, needs just seven victories to reach 600 for her career. The Billikens welcome back three starters and seven additional players from last year’s team that went 25-9 overall, tied for third place (12-4) in the league and reached the WNIT second round.
Saint Louis received three of 14 first-place votes and tallied 174 points. Defending regular-season co-champion and A-10 tournament champion Dayton is the favorite, garnering eight first-place nods and 182 points. Saint Joseph’s grabbed three first-place votes and landed third with 170 points.
Duquesne (160 points), Fordham (150), 2016-17 co-champion George Washington (116) and La Salle (114) round out the top half of the 14-team conference. George Mason (79) was eighth, followed by Richmond (78), Massachusetts (73), VCU (56), St. Bonaventure (50), Rhode Island (46) and Davidson (22).
Kemph led the A-10 and finished sixth in the nation in assists (7.3 apg) a year ago. She placed among the league’s top 10 in four other categories, including scoring (14.9 ppg), and she set a SLU single-season assists record (248) for a second straight season.
Kemph is Saint Louis’ career assists leader (661), and her 6.68 career assist average leads all active NCAA Division I players. She has 1,380 career points and needs just 206 points to become the Billikens’ all-time leader.
Propelled by a team-high 70 3-point field goals – a total that ranks third on SLU’s all-time single-season list – Frantz finished third on the team in scoring last year with 11.5 points per game. She shot 38.7 percent from the arc to place third in the A-10, and her 43 steals led the Billikens. Frantz also chipped in 2.7 assists per game.
Also returning from the 2016-17 squad that ranked among the top 50 NCAA Division I teams in seven statistical categories are senior guard Aaliyah Covington; senior forwards Jenny Vliet, Maddison Gits, Paige Rakers and Shea Shipman; junior guard Kerri McMahan; junior center Tara Dusharm; and sophomore forward Kendra Wilken. Freshman guards Tasia Jeffries, Ellie Taylor and Lauryn Hughes joined the team, as did Valparaiso transfer Amber Lindfors, a junior center who will sit out the season due to NCAA transfer regulations.
Saint Louis welcomes Lindenwood to Chaifetz Arena for an exhibition game Nov. 3 before opening the regular season at Indiana State Nov. 10. SLU takes on Loyola Marymount in the home opener Nov. 13.
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