SSU WBB holds firm grip with No. 9 NAIA ranking

PORTSMOUTH — The Shawnee State women’s basketball program held steady inside the NAIA Top 25 on Wednesday afternoon, with the Bears coming in at No. 9 — according to the poll released by national officials.

Despite the departure of two key starters to graduation in four-year starter Bailey Cummins and Sydney King, who was one of the conference’s best offensive rebounding talents last season, SSU’s collective group continues to prove itself as to its status as a national powerhouse.

Jeff Nickel’s club garnered 425 points en route to solidifying its top-10 standing once more.

The SSU women, winners of three out of their last four contests, have continuously found ways to win behind a balanced attack — with five players averaging at least 9.4 points per game or more — and effective defensive play, with the Bears only allowing more than 70 points once in a regulation game.

Opponents, as a whole, are only averaging 60.7 points per game against the SSU defense — all while collectively shooting just 37-percent from the field.

Through 13 games, Brandie Snow, Carson Roney, Anyia Pride and Natalie Zuchowski are all averaging in double figures, with Snow heading up the output with her 17.6 points per contest.

Snow also continues to pace the Bears in steals, steals per game, assists, assists per game, free throws made, free throws attempted and free-throw percentage.

As a result, Snow has already won three Mid-South Conference Player of the Week honors this season to go along with a NAIA National Player of the Week accolade, which was bestowed on Snow on Jan. 4.

Averages and notable stats are below for the top scorers:

Brandie Snow: 17.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 3.5 steals

Carson Roney: 12.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 50.4-percent shooting

Anyia Pride: 11.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 49.6-percent shooting

Natalie Zuchowski: 10.2 points, 56.3-percent shooting

Marnae Holland: 9.4 points, 5.4 rebounds

Along with the previously-mentioned players, Bethany Mackin and Abbie Kallner have been major keys to Shawnee State’s success defensively, while appearing in all 13 games.

Hagen Schaefer and Evelyn Oktavec have also appeared in all 13 of SSU’s games, while supplying big buckets at different points in time.

Erika Hendrixson has also garnered more action over the past two games, and had an 11-point, five-rebound outing that proved crucial in SSU’s 77-69 victory over Cumberlands, Ky. — which was previously unbeaten at the time.

Campbellsville, which moved into the No. 1 slot in the NAIA Women’s Basketball Poll, has 577 points to its credit while Thomas More (Ky.) — which sits fourth with 530 points — is a unit that SSU battled to a 72-67 overtime setback at home.

With 282 points, Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) joined SSU in the NAIA Top 25 at No. 17, while Cumberlands (Ky.) is in the receiving votes section of the poll.

Nickel, who is in his eighth season as the SSU head coach, now holds a 206-53 career record at the helm of the Bears.

He collected his 200th career victory against archrival Rio Grande on Nov. 12.

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