Blues Tabbed as Conference Favorite in Women's Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll

Blues Tabbed as Conference Favorite in Women's Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll

Team

Pts.

'19 NWC finish

Whitman (7)

63

2nd

Puget Sound (2)

57

3rd

George Fox

50

1st

Linfield

40

T-4th

Pacific Lutheran

28

6th

Pacific (Ore.)

28

8th

Willamette

26

7th

Whitworth

24

T-4th

Lewis & Clark

8

9th

(Points awarded on an 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Coaches could not vote for their own teams; numbers in parentheses indicate first place votes)  

HILLSBORO, Ore. – The Whitman Blues women's basketball team has been chosen as the conference frontrunner heading into the 2019-20 season, as voted on by conference coaches. The Blues earned 63 points in the poll with seven first-place votes. 

Edged by George Fox in the NWC Championship game last season, the Blues return eager to pursue their first conference title since 2014. The Blues finished the 2018-19 season ranked second in conference standings, with 13 wins and only three losses against NWC opponents.  (20-7 overall), earning the second seed in the NWC Championship tournament. Paired up with Puget Sound in the semifinals, the Blues defeated the Loggers, 69-61, to advance to the Championship game. The Blues' season fell short with a 66-52 loss to the Bruins. 

Among the three Whitman student-athletes who earned All-NWC recognition, first team honorees Makana Stone and Mady Burdett returns to the Blues' roster for their senior season as the team seeks a NWC Championship title and post-season run.

Voted second in the poll is Puget Sound with 57 points and two first-place votea. Posting a successful 2018-19 slate with a 12-4 conference record (19-6 overall), the Loggers entered the NWC Championship tournament as the third seed, falling to Whitman in the semifinals, despite sweeping the Blues in the regular season. Led heavily by NWC Player of the Year Jamie Lange, the Loggers qualified for the NWC tournament after placing fifth the season prior. Lange returns in her final year of eligibilkity to lead the Loggers as they seek to reclaim the NWC title from the Bruins.

The reigning NWC regular season and tournament champions, the George Fox Bruins place third in the preseason poll with 50 points. Under new leadership, the Bruins will pursue their third consecutive NWC title and NCAA appearance. Dropping just one conference game last season, the Bruins posted 15 wins against NWC opponents (25-4 overall) to consistently rank in the WBCA weekly coaches' poll throughout the season. All-NWC first team selection Emily Spencer, who ranked first in steals and turnovers last season, returns alongside All-NWC honorable mention choice Hailey Hartney as the Bruins seek an NWC three-peat under Head Coach Michael Cappolino in his first season.

The Linfield Wildcats are predicted to make another NWC Championship appearance, ranking fourth in the poll with 40 points. Edged by eventual Champion George Fox in the NWC semifinals, the Wildcats ended their 2018-19 season with a split regular season NWC record of 8-8 (12-14 overall), including one win against third-ranked Puget Sound. All-NWC first team honoree Molly Danielson and second team selection Kory Oleson return to lead the Wildcats in their senior season as they seek their second consecutive NWC Championship appearance.

Pacific Lutheran ties for fifth place in the poll with 28 points. The Lutes completed the 2018-19 season ranked sixth in NWC final standings, posting a 7-9 conference slate (14-10 overall). Having graduated several key players, the Lutes will look to returners Emma Janousek, who ranked first on the team in minutes per game, and Madison Salisbury, who ranked first in points per game (13.3) out of the Lutes roster, as they chase an NWC tournament appearance.

Pacific (Ore.) moves up two spots from their 2019 finish, ranking sixth alongside Pacific Lutheran in the poll. The Boxers are expecting to build on last season's 2-14 conference record (8-17 overall) and continue to climb in conference standings throughout the 2019-20 season. Despite just two seniors on the roster, the Boxers return a seasoned roster, including All-NWC honorable mention selection Courtney Carolan, who led the Boxers in points per game (13.8), in addition to Alexa Hinkley and Ashley Jones. 

Willamette ranks seventh with 26 points. The Bearcats are expected to hold steady after concluding the 2018-19 season in seventh place, recording a 6-10 conference record (11-14 overall). The team returns key players Elizabeth Logsdon and Amanda Carpenter and welcomes three first-year student-athletes as the Bearcats continue to improve among conference opponents.

Ranking eighth is the Whitworth Pirates with 24 points. The Pirates move back several spots after finishing the 2018-19 season tied in fourth with Linfield. Despite their fourth-place finish, the Pirates did not advance to the postseason due to conference tiebreaker regulation. Finishing the season with a split conference record of 8-8 (13-12 overall), the Pirates earned two All-Conference honors. The team returns Jordan Smith, who ranked second on the team in points per game (8.2), as well as Megan Dorney, who started all 25 contests as a freshman in the previous season. 

Lewis & Clark rounds out the poll with eight points to rank ninth. The Pios finished the 2018-19 season with a big conference win against fourth-place Linfield, with first-year key player Delsie Johnson named NWC Freshman of the Year. Johnson returns to lead the Pios alongside lone senior Blythe Ballesteros in their efforts this season.

The 2019-20 NWC women's basketball season will kick off this Friday, November 8th.