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This Week in WAC Women's Basketball - Nov. 13

This Week in WAC Women's Basketball - Nov. 13

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NM STATE'S SALAS NAMED WAC WOMEN"S BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE WEEK
NM State's Brooke Salas has been named Western Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week for Nov. 5 through Nov. 11.
 
Salas, a senior guard from Placentia, Calif. (El Dorado HS), started the season where she left off last year, leading the Aggies to a pair of wins to open the campaign. The WAC Preseason Player of the Year scored 22 points in 24 minutes against UT Permian Basin, also bringing down six rebounds and recording four steals. She followed that up with another 22-point and six-rebound effort on the road at Western Michigan, sparking the Aggies to a come-from-behind win against the Broncos. Through the first week of the season, she is second in scoring at 22.0 ppg and second in field goal percentage at .667.
 
Other nominees included: California Baptist's Britney Thomas logged a double-double in her first two games at CBU, averaging 15.5 ppg and 14.0 rpg as the Lancers fell at home to Idaho State before winning on the road at Long Beach State … Chicago State's Tyeshia Bowers led the WAC in scoring with 27.0 ppg in losses at Xavier and at home against Evansville … Grand Canyon's AJ Cephas led the Lopes in points with 21 in a season-opening win against UIW … Kansas City's Ericka Mattingly scored 21.5 ppg as the 'Roos fell twice to open the season … UT Rio Grande Valley's Amara Graham tied her career-high of 15 points in an 82-38 win over Texas Lutheran … Utah Valley's Eve Braslis averaged 14.3 ppg and 8.3 rpg as the Wolverines opened the season going 2-1.
 
UP NEXT
It's another busy week around the WAC with games nearly every day. California Baptist hosts Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday before traveling to Northern Arizona on Sunday. CSU Bakersfield looks to stay undefeated as they head to UTEP on Wednesday for its only game of the week. Chicago State will look for its first win with a pair of games in Kentucky against St. Francis (Brooklyn) and host Morehead State. Grand Canyon also looks to stay undefeated, heading to East Carolina on Wednesday and UNC Wilmington on Saturday. Kansas City travels to Kansas State on Sunday while NM State takes a 2-0 record to rival UTEP on Saturday. Seattle U travels to Hawai'i for games against Arizona and the host Rainbow Wahine. UT Rio Grande Valley travels to Canisius on Saturday while Utah Valley is home against Ottawa (Ariz.) on Saturday to round out the week's schedule.
 
BY THE NUMBERS
Through the first week of the regular season, Grand Canyon leads the WAC in scoring at 74.0 points per game as well as field goal percentage (.481), three-point field goal percentage (.409), assists (20.0), assist/turnover ratio (1.8) and three-pointers made (9.0). NM State is tops in scoring defense (46.0), scoring margin (+22.0) and rebounding defense (28.5). Utah Valley leads the league in free throw percentage (.837) and steals (11.7) while Seattle U is the leader in three-point defense (.154).  UT Rio Grande Valley is the best in rebounding offense (47.5), rebounding margin (+13.5) and turnover margin (+4.00). Chicago State is the early blocks leader (6.0), Kansas City is the leader in offensive rebounds (21.5) and California Baptist holds the lead in defensive rebounds (31.5).
 
Individually, Chicago State's Tyeshia Bowers is the scoring leader at 27.0 ppg. California Baptist's Britney Thomas has the rebounding lead (14.0) while GCU's Laura Piera leads the league in assists (11.0). NM State's Brooke Salas is the leader in field goal percentage (.667) while Chicago State's Taylor Robinson holds the lead in three-point field goal percentage (.667). CBU's Georgia Dale is the steals leader (3.5) and CSU's Ines Mata Boix is tied with GCU's AJ Cephas for the lead in blocks (3.0). GCU's Kavita Akula is averaging a WAC-best 4.0 three-pointers per game.
 
STAT LEADERS BACK
The statistical leaderboard may see some new names rising up this season but it won't be without some familiar faces.
 
On the scoring list, NM State's Brooke Salas was the leading scorer at 19.1 points per game.  Salas is also the top returner in free throw shooting (.835), steals (2.2), three-point field goal percentage (.383) and three-pointers made (1.7). Teammate Gia Pack was third at 16.0 ppg. Chicago State's Ines Mata Boix is the top returning rebounder, having ranked second last season at 8.2 per game, as well as shot blocker, having led the league last season with 2.0 per game. Kansas City's Kristen Moore ranked third last season in field goal percentage at .506. There will be a new assist leader this year as Seattle U's Kamira Sanders is the top returner, having ranked seventh last season with 3.3 per game. 
 
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
NM State is the favorite to win the 2018-19 Western Athletic Conference women's basketball title and the Aggies' Brooke Salas was selected WAC Preseason Player of the Year in a vote of the league's nine head coaches, who could not vote for their own team or players.
 
The Aggies, who won their fourth-straight WAC regular season title last season, received 62 points and seven first-place votes in the preseason poll. CSU Bakersfield picked up the remaining first two votes for a total of 56 points. Defending tournament champion Seattle U was picked third with 49 points and Grand Canyon took fourth with 45 points. Kansas City and UT Rio Grande Valley tied for fifth with 33 points each. California Baptist was selected seventh in its inaugural WAC season, followed by Utah Valley and Chicago State.
 
Salas leads the list of Preseason All-WAC honorees. Joining her on the first team are teammate Gia Pack, CSU Bakersfield's Alexxus Gilbert, Kansas City's Kristen Moore and Seattle U's Kamira Sanders.
 
Second team selections include CSU Bakersfield's Vanessa Austin and Jazmine Johnson, Grand Canyon's AJ Cephas and Laura Piera and UT Rio Grande Valley's Quynne Huggins.
 
PRESEASON MEDIA POLL
The Western Athletic Conference women's basketball media have selected NM State as the preseason favorite to repeat as conference champions in 2018-19 and the Aggies' Brooke Salas as the WAC Preseason Player of the Year.
 
The Aggies earned nine first-place votes in the media poll to collect 81 points to top the poll. CSU Bakersfield is second with 69 points, followed by Seattle U in third with 63 points. Grand Canyon is fourth with 46 points. Kansas City and Utah Valley are tied for fifth with 36 points, followed by UT Rio Grande Valley in seventh, California Baptist in eighth and Chicago State in ninth.
 
Salas leads the list of Preseason All-WAC honorees. Joining her on the first team are teammate Gia Pack, CSU Bakersfield's Jazmine Johnson, Kansas City's Kristen Moore and Seattle U's Kamira Sanders.
 
Second team selections include CSU Bakersfield's Vanessa Austin and Alexxus Gilbert, UT Rio Grande Valley's Quynne Huggins, Chicago State's Ines Mata Boix and California Baptist's Lexy Ram.
 
RETURNING ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS
Just two of five First Team All-WAC players from last season return for the 2017-18 season as WAC Preseason Player of the Year Brooke Salas and her NM State teammate Gia Pack return for this season. No second team honoreers return but Salas and CSU Bakersfield's Jazmine Johnson return from the All-Defensive Team.
 
NEW LEADERS
Three head coaches will experience the WAC for the first time this season. California Baptist's Jarrod Olson leads the Lancers into Division I after posting a 93-13 record in five years at the Division II level. UT Rio Grande Valley's Lane Lord also makes the transition from Division II to Division I, coming to the valley from Pittsburg State, where he held a 231-102 record in 11 seasons. Chicago State hired Misty Opat after a successful run at Rock Valley College, where she won four NJCAA national championships.
 
WAC ATTITUDE ON ALTITUDE
The WAC Digital Network is producing a 30-minute WAC Basketball Preview Show in advance of the upcoming season. Altitude Sports Network will air the show 14 times during the month of November.
 
WDN on-air talent Rachel Vigil is the host. Vigil will have on-set interviews with NM State men's basketball coach Chris Jans and NM State women's basketball coach Brooke Atkinson as the Aggies are picked to win the WAC in both coaches' polls. There will also be features on players in the pros and Midnight Madness celebrations as the WAC starts its 57th season of basketball competition next month.
 
LETTERWINNER/STARTER CAPSULE
There will be a bit of new blood in the WAC this season but the game won't be without some familiar faces.  Four of nine schools return a majority of their starters with both CSU Bakersfield and UT Rio Grande Valley bringing back four starters from last season. California Baptist and preseason favorite NM State each return three starters. On the other end, Kansas City returns just one letterwinner while Grand Canyon will have a whole new starting five this season.
 
 
KEY NON-CONFERENCE MATCHUPS
This season, WAC teams will face some tough competition in the non-conference portion of the schedule, with six games against NCAA Tournament participants and 10 against Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) participants. The complete list is below.
 
Games vs. NCAA Teams
Nov. 28 - California Baptist at CSUN
Dec. 6 - Kansas City at Missouri
Dec. 20 - Texas at UT Rio Grande Valley
Dec. 29 - UT Rio Grande Valley at Texas A&M
Dec. 29 - CSU Bakersfield at Oregon State
Dec. 31 - UT Rio Grande Valley at Baylor
 
Games vs. WNIT Teams
Nov. 6 - Wright State at CSU Bakersfield
Nov. 18 - Kansas City at Kansas State
Nov. 20 - UAB at Chicago State
Nov. 23 - George Mason at Kansas City
Nov. 26 - Seattle U at Utah
Dec. 1 - NM State at New Mexico
Dec. 1 - Utah Valley at Utah
Dec. 9 - Seattle U at UC Davis
Dec. 15 - New Mexico at NM State
Dec. 21 - Louisiana Tech at Kansas City
 
WELCOME TO THE WAC
California Baptist joins the Western Athletic Conference as a full-time member in 2018-19. The Lancers won the NCAA Division II Learfield Cup in 2017-18. They will begin their four year transition process to Division 1. This will make them ineligible to compete in post season tournaments (WAC and NCAA) until 2022-2023 season. 
 
ORLEANS ARENA IN LAS VEGAS TO HOST 2019 WAC TOURNAMENT
The 2019 WAC Basketball Tournament returns to the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas for the eighth year in a row. This year's tournament includes all eight teams and will be held Wednesday-Saturday, March 13-16.
 
COMING TO YOU LIVE
The WAC Digital Network will broadcast 97 regular season women's basketball games. In addition, the WDN will bring you the 2019 WAC Basketball Tournament at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.