Koupal named NCC MVP, joins Frie and Nelson on All-NCC Squad Head coach Chad Lavin selected NCC Coac

Koupal named NCC MVP, joins Frie and Nelson on All-NCC Squad Head coach Chad Lavin selected NCC Coach of the Year The University of South Dakota women's basketball team, which has enjoyed its best season in school history, received numerous conference accolades, including MVP and Coach of the Year honors, according to an announcement released by the North Central Conference office on Tuesday, March 11.

Junior All-American Mandy Koupal of Wagner was named the NCC's Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive season. She is the first two-time league MVP in school history. In addition, head coach Chad Lavin was named NCC Coach of the Year. Joining Koupal on the all-league team was senior forwards Julia Frie of Byron, MN, and Heather Nelson of Yankton.

Lavin, who was named NCC Coach of the Year for the third time in his career, directed the No. 7 South Dakota women's basketball team to a 25-4 overall record and a share of the NCC regular season title (14-2). It was USD's first NCC title since the 1984-85 season. The 25 wins overall and 14 in league play are both school records.

In his ninth year at South Dakota, Lavin guided the Coyotes to their fourth NCC title. He was also coach of the year in 1983-84 and 1984-85. The all-time wins leader at USD (159-93), Lavin has a career mark of 334-355 (.568) and he is 79-59 in league play. This year's squad advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs for the first time since the 1988-89 season.

Koupal, who shared the MVP award with North Dakota's Becky Moen a year ago, responded with a bigger season in 2002-03. Named all-NCC for the third time, Koupal averaged 22.4 points and 12.4 rebounds per game in league play.

Earlier this month, Koupal was selected a Verizon Academic All-American (third team). This season, Koupal led the NCC in five categories, including scoring (22.4 ppg), rebounding (12.4), offensive rebounds (3.78), and defensive rebounds (7.96) and double doubles (18). A four-time NCC Player of Week and DII Bulletin Player of the Month for December in 2002-03, she has won seven NCC Player of the Week honors in two years at USD. In 2002-03, she set USD's single-game scoring record with 40 points and owns the school-record for points in a season with 668.

Koupal also has an NCC single-game record of 26 rebounds and has a school-record 344 rebounds in 2002-03. She is one of two players nationally to rank in the top seven in scoring and rebounding.

The first player ever at USD to score 600 points and grab 300 rebounds in the same season, Koupal is just the school's ninth player to record 1,000 points (1,264) and 500 rebounds (610).

Nelson, who was named all-NCC for the second straight season, averaged 15.1 points and 3.8 points per game in league play. Nelson ranks seventh on the Coyotes' career scoring chart with 1,281 points. She was NCC Player of the Week on Feb. 24.

The senior forward, who did not attempt a 3-pointer in high school, has become one of the best in the nation. She ranks second on USD's career 3-point list with 176 and has 68 this year, which is third all-time for a seasonal total. She is hitting 43 percent (68-158) from 3-point range.

In addition, Nelson has been a force on defense with 52 steals and 22 blocked shots this season. She has 153 career steals, ninth on USD's all-time chart.

Named academic all-NCC for three straight seasons, Frie was a force in the middle and on the perimeter for South Dakota. She averaged 10.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. In addition, she had a deadly stroke from 3-point range. In league play, she led the NCC with 32 3-pointers in 67 attempts for 47.8 percent.

Overall, she has made 42 3-pointers (111 attempts). She was the eighth player in school history to record 1,000 points (1,243) and 500 rebounds (584). Earlier, she was named to the Verizon Academic All American Second Team (4.0 GPA in biology). With 152 steals, she is tied for eighth all-time at USD.

Frie has 144 career 3-point baskets, which is fourth all-time at South Dakota. Frie, who had season-highs of 21 points and nine rebounds, has started 107-of-111 games during her career.

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