Nicole Seekamp cemented her status as one of South Dakota’s all-time greats as the South Australian led the Coyotes to the WNIT title, securing the Tournament MVP award in the process. South Dakota’s NIT triumph was The Summit League's first postseason title in any sport, male or female.
Nicole Seekamp - WNIT Champion and Tournament MVP | Credit: Aaron Packard/University of South Dakota Athletics
Thursday saw South Dakota take on Oregon in a battle of the Aussies, as Seekamp and Jasmine Trimboli faced off against Jacinta Vandenberg. Vandenberg would lead all scorers with 17, but it would be Seekamp and Trimboli who had the last laugh as the Coyotes executed a demolition job, winning by a massive 34 points (88-54). South Dakota did serious damage in the first quarter, leaping out to a 19-9 lead at the first break. The first quarter set the tone for the remainder of the game. The home side maintained their lead throughout the second quarter, before a 29-7 third quarter put the game to bed with a quarter to play. Oregon won the final quarter 22-20, but this game was well and truly over before the end of the third quarter. Seekamp finished with 10 points and 6 assists, whilst Trimboli tallied 11 points as six Coyotes finished in double figures.
The semi-final victory meant South Dakota would host Florida Gulf Coast in the championship game, doubling as the final game at the DakotaDome before a new venue opens for the 2016-17 season. The teams traded baskets, and the lead, throughout the first quarter. South Dakota managed to take a 19-18 lead into the second quarter, which would be a far more cagey affair. The Coyotes would extend their lead by three points as the teams combined for just 21 points to see the Coyotes lead 31-27 at halftime. Nicole Seekamp’s shooting was slightly off in the first half, finishing with 1/5 from the field, but the senior contributed in other ways, collecting 7 rebounds and dishing out 7 assists. Jasmine Trimboli’s shooting was on song though, as she connected with her only two field goal attempts.
South Dakota would push the gap out to 12 points midway through the third quarter, but Florida Gulf Coast were able to close that margin back to 5 points as both the nerves and excitement grew throughout the sold-out DakotaDome. A 14-11 third quarter saw the Coyotes go into the final term 7 points up, but Florida Gulf Coast were not going to go down without one heck of a fight.
With potential WNBA draft pick Whitney Knight swatting shots away with glee, finishing with 9 blocks, the visitors quickly reduced the lead to 2 with 8 minutes to play. However, Knight committed a foul shortly after and South Dakota took advantage, with Tia Hemiller picking up an and-one followed by three free throws just seconds later to push the lead out to 8. Seekamp’s shooting continued to be cold, finishing with just 3/15 from the field, but the Coyotes legend would not be denied an excellent performance in her final game. Seekamp finished with 9 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists as South Dakota hit their free throws late on to complete a 71-65 victory and ensure that there would be a banner hanging from the rafters from day one when the new basketball venue opens later this season. Jasmine Trimboli finished with 4 points and 2 assists in the ground-breaking Coyotes win.