Coach: Chris Paul
Record: 13-17 (8-8 Summit League, fourth place)
What went right: For the first time in the program’s history, the Mastodons owned the Summit League Player of the Year. Amanda Hyde, a 5-foot-10 junior forward, led the league in scoring with an 18.6 average, which included a school record-tying 43-point outburst against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. Hyde also averaged 4.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.8 steals, and shot 44 percent from the floor and 87 percent from the free throw line. Junior Erin Murphy was second in scoring with a 12.8 average, and sophomore Haley Seibert scored 33 points in the 106-101 double-overtime victory over Western Illinois in the opening round of the Summit League tournament to boost her average to 9.5. Twins Stefanie (7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds) and Rachel Mauk (6.4 points, 3.0 rebounds) secured starting positions. It was Stefanie’s back-to-back buzzer beaters – first an off-balance three-pointer, then a driving layup – that sent IPFW into the first and second overtimes against Western Illinois. IPFW turned the corner in mid-January after an 18-point loss at UMKC. The Mastodons finished the season by winning seven of their last 11 games.
What went wrong: After losing the team’s dominant force in the middle for three years, 6-2 Stephanie Rosado, IPFW never found a consistent replacement, particularly at the defensive end. Neither Hyde nor the Mauks were strong enough to keep opponents off the boards, and IPFW’s opponents averaged six more rebounds per game than the Mastodons. The inability to prevent the opposition from scoring inside is indicated by the .453 field goal percentage. Opponents also had twice as many blocked shots – 87-43. Before the Mastodons’ late-season improvement, they endured a five-game losing streak, during which they gave up 73 points per game. Plus, there was too much South Dakota State at the end. For the fourth consecutive season, the Jackrabbits eliminated IPFW from the league tournament. IPFW regressed against SDSU, first losing by two points at home, then by 10 in Brookings, S.D., then by 27 in Sioux Falls.
Outlook: There wasn’t a Senior Night this season because there were no seniors, which means everyone (barring transfer) is returning. Aside from her 33-point game against Western Illinois, Seibert became more comfortable in the role of point guard. Opposing teams in the league will have all season to devise a way to guard Hyde, which means Murphy, one of the team’s most natural scorers, will have to become a consistent second scoring option next season. Six-foot sophomore forward Rebecca Bruner and 6-0 freshman guard Courtney Ogle showed flashes of improvement, with Ogle being a possible matchup problem next season from the wing. The added experience from everyone will provide much-needed depth against quality opponents. Among the new faces coming in next season is South Side’s All-SAC forward Ariana Simmons.