Huskies’ WBB Coach Named National Coach-of-the-Year Finalist

WBCA.org – The St. Cloud State University women’s basketball team had nothing short of a historic and outstanding season in 2019-20. Although it ended abruptly on March 12, the Huskies still had plenty to celebrate, as they were one of just 23 teams to end their season with a “W” thanks to their Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC)/Sanford Health Tournament Championship win over Minnesota-Duluth.

On Monday, St. Cloud State had more reason to celebrate, as Huskies head coach Lori Fish was named a finalist for the 2020 United States Marine Corps/WBCA NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year honor, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) announced Monday morning.

Fish was one of eight head coaches nominated for the prestigious honor, as she led SCSU to its best overall (23-7) and NSIC (16-6) record since taking over the program in 2008-09. Picked to finish sixth in the preseason coaches poll, the Huskies defied all odds and finished in a tie for second overall in the NSIC standings, earning the No. 2 seed in the North Division behind regular season conference champion Minnesota-Duluth. Additionally, St. Cloud State earned its first regional ranking since the early 2000s, finishing sixth in the final poll, and won the NSIC/Sanford Health Tournament for just the second time in program history. Thanks to that, the team earned the NSIC’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament and was set to make its first regional appearance since 2008-09.

Fish also helped several individuals find success in 2019-20, as the Huskies were one of the top defenses in both the NSIC and the region. At the end of the regular season, St. Cloud State ranked third in the conference in scoring defense, as the team held its opponents to 61.9 points per game throughout the course of the year. The Huskies also outscored their opponents by an average of 8.2 points even though no single player averaged above 14.0 points per game. In fact, St. Cloud State had arguably the most well-rounded offensive game in the conference, as all five starters averaged over 10.0 points per game in regular season play.

Three student-athletes earned All-NSIC honors at the conclusion of the season, including senior guard Madelin Dammann (Waconia, MN), junior forward Nikki Kilboten (Eau Claire, WI) and junior guard Tori Wortz (Hutchinson, MN). Those same three were named to the NSIC/Sanford Health All-Tournament team as well, while Wortz earned Second Team Academic All-District honors for her on and off court performances in 2019-20. Finally, Kassidy Steen (Cloquet, MN) became the first back-to-back NSIC Elite 18 Award winner in program history as the student-athlete with the highest GPA competing at the NSIC/Sanford Health Tournament final site.

Fish is the first coach from St. Cloud State to be named a finalist for the WBCA’s Coach of the Year honor according to available records. Under normal circumstances, Fish and the other seven finalists were to be recognized at the WBCA Convention where the winner would also be named, but due to COVID-19, the annual convention was cancelled. The organization instead announced later in the day online that Drury Coach Molly Miller was this year’s winner.