The women's basketball program at Shawnee State picked up 105 points and two first-place votes in Thursday morning's Mid-South Conference Preseason Poll, according to a release put out by conference officials.
Shawnee State, who won its fifth Mid-South Conference Tournament Championship in six seasons in March, finished 29-4 last season and ranked as the No. 8 team in the country in the season-ending NAIA Division I Poll. The Bears have won at least 25 or more games under Nickel's direction in each of the last six seasons under the South Shore, Ky. native's helm.
Campbellsville, who picked up 115 points and six first-place votes, paced the poll while Thomas More, who fell to SSU in the 2020 Mid-South Conference Tournament Championship Game in March, grabbed 98 tallies and two first-place votes to collect third place in the rankings. Bethel (Tenn.)'s 95 points and a first-place vote, along with Lindsey Wilson's 88 points and an additional first-place vote, rounded out the top-five overall.
Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.), who grabbed 66 tallies in the poll, was picked to finish sixth, edging Cumberlands (Ky.)'s 59 points for that position. Martin Methodist (52 points), Pikeville (46 points) and Georgetown (33 points) rounded out the top-10 overall while Life (Ga.) and Cumberland (Tenn.), who notched 22 and 13 points, respectively, rounded out the rankings.
The returning group:
Despite losing Bailey Cummins, the Mid-South Conference's Female Student-Athlete of the Year in addition to the Mid-South Conference's Player of the Year and a First-Team NAIA All-American, along with fellow starter Sydney King, the Bears return three of their top-four scorers from last year's group, including First-Team All-MSC honoree and Honorable Mention NAIA All-American Brandie Snow along with Second-Team All-MSC talents Carson Roney and Anyia Pride.
Snow, who has 917 points for her career, set the single-game steals record at Shawnee State with 11 in the season-opener against Lourdes last fall and averaged 15.1 points per game on 49.2 percent shooting from the field. Snow was fourth in the conference in points per game, fifth in field goal percentage and third in both steals (98) and steals per game (2.97) last season.
Pride (11.1 points, 4.7 rebounds per game) and Roney (9.4 points, 5.6 rebounds) bring back significant production down low while Natalie Zuchowski (64.3 percent shooting for her career), Hagen Schaefer, and Marnae Holland also figure to factor into the equation. Bethany Mackin, who made 22 starts last season, leads a group of talented sophomores that include returnees Evelyn Oktavec, Abbie Kallner, Alex Ochman and incoming transfers Erika Hendrixson and Megan Haines.
The Bears are scheduled to open their season Saturday, Oct. 31 against Lourdes. Game time is set for 2 p.m. All home games will be broadcasted via portal.stretchinternet.com/shawneest. A complete schedule of games can be found here.
For more information on SSU Bears Athletics, visit www.ssubears.com or visit the Twitter and Facebook pages at https://twitter.com/SSUBears and https://www.facebook.com/SSUBears. For more information on how to join the SSU Bear Club or for sponsorship of specific SSU players or events, visit https://www.givecampus.com/schools/ShawneeStateUniversity/bear-club-challenge-2020-2021#updates.