Posted: Nov 27, 2018
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CALIFORNIA BAPTIST'S THOMAS NAMED WAC WOMEN"S BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE WEEK
California Baptist's Britney Thomas has been named Western Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week for Nov. 19 through Nov. 25.
Thomas, a junior forward from San Jacinto, Calif. (San Jacinto HS), continued her strong play for the Lancers with her fourth and fifth double-doubles of the season. Against San Diego State, she scored 28 points on 11-of-20 shooting from the field and brought down 13 rebounds to go with an assist, a steal and a block. She followed that up with 10 points and 13 rebounds, adding two assists and two blocks, in a neutral-site loss to Brigham Young. On the season, she is third in the WAC in scoring at 17.3 points per game and second in rebounding at 12.2 per game. Her .551 shooting percentage also ranks third and her five double-doubles are a league-best.
Other nominees included: Grand Canyon's ShaRon Miller helped the Lopes to a weekend split, averaging 15.0 points per game and 8.0 rebounds per game … NM State's Gia Pack scored 22 points against Abilene Christian while also bringing down 11 rebounds for her second double-double of the season … UT Rio Grande Valley's Madison Northcutt recorded her second double-double of the year on Sunday against St. Thomas (Texas), scoring 14 points and bringing down 14 rebounds … Utah Valley's Jordan Holland scored 21 points on 10-of-17 shooting in the Wolverines' win over Arizona Christian.
The non-conference portion of the schedule continues this week with a multitude of games across the conference. California Baptist opens the docket on Wednesdy afternoon with a day game at CSUN. Utah Valley hosts Brigham Young in a day game on Thursday with Kansas City, Chicago State and California Baptist also playing at home Thursday night. CSU Bakersfield hits the road on Thursday, traveling to UC Irvine. UT Rio Grande Valley and Seattle U will both be home on Friday while NM State, CSU Bakersfield and Utah Valley all prep for in-state road games on Saturday. UTRGV continues their homestand on Saturday night with a game against Louisiana. Kansas City heads to North Dakota State on Sunday while Seattle U hosts Pepperdine and Grand Canyon travels to UC Santa Barbara to wrap up the week's schedule.
BY THE NUMBERS
Utah Valley leads the WAC in scoring offense (75.0), free throw percentage (.793), assists (17.8) and steals (12.6). Preseason favorite NM State is the top team in scoring defense (53.2), scoring margin (+17.2), field goal percentage defense (.321), rebounding defense (29.8) and rebounding margin (+8.0). The Lopes of Grand Canyon lead the league in field goal percentage (.482) and three-point field goal percentage (.402) while Seattle U is the leader in three-point defense (.208). UT Rio Grande Valley is the top rebounding team (41.3) and the Vaqueros also hold the top assist/turnover ratio (1.1). Chicago State is the leader in blocked shots (6.0) and CSU Bakersfield is the best in turnover margin (+5.67).
Individually, CBU's Britney Thomas is the leader in scoring (17.3 ppg) and Chicago State's Ines Mata Boix is the leader in rebounding (13.0). UVU's Eve Braslis has the top field goal percentage (.630) while teammate Maria Carvalho is the leader in both assists (6.0) and free throw percentage (.929). UMKC's Ericka Mattingly is the steals leader (2.6) while CSU's Mata Boix also leads the league in blocks (3.0). NM State's Kalei Atkinson holds the top three-point field goal percentatge (.636) and GCU's Venla Varis is making the most three-pointers (2.6). CBU's Emma Meriggioli has the best assist/turnover ratio (2.1) while GCU's Kavita Akula is averaging a WAC-high 37.0 minutes 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.
CLOSING IN ON 1K
Kansas City senior Kristen Moore is poised to become the next WAC player to score 1,000 career points. The forward sits at 975 heading into this week's games with Peru State and North Dakota State. NM State senior Brooke Salas is the lone active 1,000-point scorer in the WAC.
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.
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.
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.