(Montgomery, Ala.) Highlighted by Wolf Pack head coach Kellie Kennedy being named conference coach of the year, nine members of the Loyola University New Orleans women’s basketball team received recognition at tonight’s Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) women’s basketball awards banquet held in Montgomery, Ala.
With Kennedy at the helm, the newly minted No. 23 Wolf Pack enters the postseason as the top seed in the SSAC Championship after claiming the program’s second SSAC regular season title following a victory over Blue Mountain College on Saturday.
Loyola ends the regular season at 25-5 overall, marking the highest number of regular season wins by a Loyola women’s basketball team in program history. Individually, Kennedy cemented herself as the winningest basketball coach in Wolf Pack history when an 84-53 victory over Millsaps College on Nov. 28 gave the Concord, N.C. native 174 wins to surpass longtime Loyola men’s coach Jack Orsley for the most victories at the school.
Under Kennedy’s tutelage, the Wolf Pack have won one GCAC regular season and tournament title while taking two SSAC tournament and regular season crowns in her nine years in charge.
Senior forward Meghan Temple headlines a group of three Loyola players to earn SSAC 1st –Team All-Conference nods, giving the Wolf Pack the most first-team honorees of any school in the conference.
One of the most consistent players in the SSAC, Temple leads the league with a 0.543 field goal percentage. She currently ranks second on the Wolf Pack and 13th in the league with 347 total points. Her 9.14 rebounds per game (No. 2 in the conference) and 265 total rebounds (No. 2 in the conference) has helped Loyola become the top team in the country in total rebound offense at 1413 and a top five team nationally in defensive rebounds per game (30.6) and total rebounds per game (47.1).
An anchor on the defensive end, Temple ranks third in the SSAC with 40 total blocks and 1.38 blocks per game. The Houston native will leave Loyola as the top shot blocker in program history (122 and counting) and her eight rejections in Loyola’s dominating 81-53 victory over Xavier University on Nov. 11 were the most blocks in a single game by any Loyola women’s basketball player in history.
Temple’s nine double-doubles this season are the third-most in the league and her 29 points against SUNO on Nov. 17 puts her at No. 13 on the SSAC stellar points list. Overall, the senior forward ranks amongst the league leaders in 10 major statistical categories.
Nationally, Temple is eighth in the NAIA with 4.3 offensive rebounds per game while her 0.543 field goal percentage is the 11th highest in the country. Entering the postseason, Meghan lands inside the top 25 nationally in six major statistical categories.
She has scored in double figures in 18 games this season and has grabbed at least 10 rebounds in 12 contests including a span of six-straight games.
Meghan will leave Loyola as the program’s all-time leader in blocks and total rebounds (971 and counting). If Temple can grab 29 more rebounds she will become not only the first Wolf Pack women’s basketball player to record 1000 points/1000 rebounds but she will also be just the second Loyola basketball player (men’s or women’s) to ever reach that milestone.
A member of the Wolf Pack for four years, Temple has helped Loyola to two SSAC regular season titles and two SSAC tournament titles. She is also a part of the winningest four-year class (Temple, Kylah Jones (SR/Houston, Texas), Jackie Anderson (SR/San Antonio, Texas)) in the history of the program with a combined 97 victories.
Joining Temple on the first team is multi-faceted guard junior Di’Mond Jackson. Jackson has been the engine that has helped Loyola to a program-record 25 regular season victories this year. Her 128 assists (10th most all-time at Loyola) and 4.3 assists per game lead the SSAC and her 10 helpers against William Carey on Jan. 19 are tied for the most in the league this season.
A back-to-back SSAC Player of the Week winner, Di’Mond notched the first triple-double in the conference since the 2011-12 season and the first by a Wolf Pack women’s basketball player since 2008. Her 10-10-10 performance in the Loyola’s 40-point victory over William Carey was also just the fifth triple-double in the NAIA this season. Nationally, Jackson ranks 14th in the NAIA with 128 total assists and 19th nationally with 4.2 assists per game. On the year, Jackson was only one of two players to earn SSAC Player of the Week multiple times during the season.
Jackson tallied at least 10 points in 16 games while recording at least five assists and at least six rebounds in 15 contests (each) throughout the year.
Rounding out the first team selections is junior speedster Zoie Miller. Whether in the starting lineup or coming off the bench, Miller has been the spark on both sides of the ball for the Wolf Pack throughout the entire season. She currently leads the team and ranks seventh with 13.48 points per game and is sixth in the SSAC with 391 total points. Defensively, Miller ranks fifth in the conference with 62 total steals and 2.14 steals per game – both of which land her inside the top 50 in the NAIA.
Miller was awarded the SSAC Player of the Week award once this season and she was also chosen as the National Jesuit Player of the Week by the Jesuit Basketball Spotlight on Dec. 14.
Zoie has scored in double figures for the last 13-straight games and has recorded 20 games this year with at least 10 points. The Frisco native has put up at least 20 points on seven occasions this season, highlighted by a career-high 27 points against Selma University on Dec. 7.
Senior guard Kylah Jones ends her career with the Wolf Pack by being named to the SSAC 2nd-Team All-Conference squad. Appearing in all 30 games this season, Jones has been a consistent player for the Wolf Pack all year. She currently ranks third on the team and 20th in the SSAC with 10.07 points per game. Her 47 steals are eighth most in the league this year and her 72 assists place her inside the top 10 in the conference. Her 284 career helpers are the eighth most in Wolf Pack history and she recently hit the 1000 career points plateau to join fellow senior Meghan Temple as Loyola women’s basketball players to reach that milestone this season.
Jones has scored in double figures in 15 games this season including two outings with at least 20 points.
After leading the conference in three-point field goal percentage, off guard Paige Franzkiewicz was named to the SSAC All-Freshman Team on Wednesday evening. Making 26 starts during her freshman campaign, Franckiewicz added a new dimension to the Wolf Pack’s offensive attack. The young sharpshooter leads the SSAC with a .0383 three-point field percentage and her 2.5 triples made per game and 75 total three-pointers made are both the second highest in the league.
The No. 19 scorer in the conference, Paige’s 32 points against Selma were the eighth most in the league this year. In that game, she recorded the most points by a member of the Wolf Pack since 2012 while her nine triples made came up just one short of tying the program record for most three-pointers made in a game. Her nine triples in that game were also the most made in a game by any player in the SSAC this season.
With Frankiewicz taking aim, the Wolf Pack leads the SSAC in three-point field percentage offense (.335) while ranking third in three-pointers made (226) and fourth with 7.53 triples made per game.
Nationally, Paige’s 75 made three-pointers are 11th most in the NAIA and her 2.5 triples made per game is the 19th best mark in the country.
For her adherence to the NAIA Five Core Values, senior forward Jackie Anderson was named a SSAC Champion of Character while sophomore Kayla Noto (SO/New Orleans, La.) (Biology/Pre-Med) and senior Caroline Gonzalez (SR/Colleyville, Texas) (Communications) left Montgomery with SSAC All-Academic honors for their stellar work in the classroom.
The top-seeded Wolf Pack will take on No. 8-seeded Middle Georgia State tomorrow, March 2, in the quarterfinals of the SSAC Championships. Tip-off between Loyola and the Knights is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. and links to video coverage and live stats can be found at www.loyolawolfpack.com.