SSU ranked 9th in NAIA women’s preseason poll

PORTSMOUTH — In the first preseason poll as part of the NAIA’s transition from two divisions to one central division, the women’s basketball program at Shawnee State was selected to finish ninth in the NAIA Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll on Wednesday morning — according to a release put out by national officials.

Shawnee State — which garnered 437 points in the NAIA Preseason Poll — loses Mid-South Conference Player of the Year and NAIA First-Team All-American Bailey Cummins, but returns six of its top eight scorers, three of its four leading rebounders, and 10 letterwinners from a unit that went 29-4 during the 2019-20 season and won its fifth conference championship in six years.

Leading the group of returnees is Brandie Snow, who joined Cummins on the First-Team all-MSC unit and earned NAIA Honorable Mention All-American honors to boot in 2020.

Snow — the reigning Mid-South Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player — is the team’s returning leader in nine different categories, including points (498), points per game (15.1), rebounds (192), rebounds per game (5.8), assists (92), assists per game (2.8), steals (96), steals per game (3.0) and free-throw percentage (76.4).

Behind Snow, two second-team all-MSC performers in Anyia Pride and Carson Roney also return.

They combined for 20.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, aiding Shawnee State’s run back to the pinnacle of the conference.

Along with the previously mentioned trio, Natalie Zuchowski (67.3-percent shooting in 2019-20), Marnae Holland (48.1-percent shooting), Hagen Schaefer, Bethany Mackin (22 starts and a 42.3-percent shooting clip from long range), Evelyn Oktavec (38.5-percent shooting), Abbie Kallner and Alex Ochman all return to the lineup.

Megan Haines, who played in 28 games at Charleston (W. Va.) last season, and Erika Hendrixson, a transfer from Maryville (Ind.), round out the roster.

In addition to Shawnee State, five additional Mid-South Conference foes appeared inside the national poll, including Campbellsville, who led the way at No. 4.

The Tigers grabbed 534 points while Bethel (Tenn.) and Thomas More — who tied at No. 14 — each posted 302 points.

Lindsey Wilson posted 102 points to sit as the first team outside of the rankings in the receiving votes section, while Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) joined the Blue Raiders in the receiving votes area with 11 points.

For more on the NAIA Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll, click here.

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