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This Week in WAC Women's Basketball - Jan. 2

This Week in WAC Women's Basketball - Jan. 2
 
SU'S ALVES NAMED WAC WOMEN"S BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Seattle U's Joanna Alves has been named Western Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week for Dec. 24 through Dec. 30.
 
Alves, a junior center from Lisbon, Portugal (Escola Secundária Fernão Mendes Pinto), put up a career game in a close loss to UC Irvine. She put up career highs with 29 points and 12 rebounds, also adding three blocks in the road game. This season, she ranks seventh in the WAC in scoring at 13.1 points per game and 10th in rebounding at 6.1 rebounds per game. Her .826 free throw percentage is a WAC-best and her 1.2 blocks per game are tied for fourth.
 
Other nominees included: Chicago State's Ines Mata Boix averaged 13.5 ppg and 15.0 rpg in a pair of losses at Bradley and against Brown … UT Rio Grande Valley's Jameka Dowell scored a season-high 14 points in a loss to 24th-ranked Texas A&M … Utah Valley's Jordan Holland scored 21 points, all in the second half, in a last-minute loss at Cal State Fullerton.
 
UP NEXT
It's a new year and with the change in calendar comes conference play with WAC contests starting on Thursday. Defending regular season champion NM State hosts newcomer California Baptist to open the slate on Thursday. The Lancers then head to UT Rio Grande Valley on Saturday evening. Seattle U, who won the 2018 WAC tournament, opens conference play at home against CSU Bakersfield and Grand Canyon. CSUB and GCU also travel to Utah Valley this week as everyone looks to take the early lead. The final game matches travel partners Kansas City and Chicago State as the Roos and Cougars will meet in the Windy City on Saturday.
 
BY THE NUMBERS
Heading into 2019, California Baptist leads the league in scoring offense (75.2), scoring margin (+5.2), rebounding offense (43.3), assists (18.2), assist/turnover ratio (1.2), defensive rebounds (30.3) and three-pointers made (9.4). NM State is the leader in scoring defense (63.3), field goal defense (.370), rebounding margin (+2.3) and blocked shots (4.7). Utah Valley holds the top free throw percentage (.793) and rebounding defense (35.4). Grand Canyon leads the WAC in field goal percentage (.446) and three-point field goal percentage (.370) while Seattle U holds the top three-point field goal defense (.370).  CSU Bakersfield is tops in steals (12.2) and turnover margin (+5.08) and Kansas City is the leader in offensive rebounds (13.9).
 
Individually, UMKC's Ericka Mattingly enters WAC play as the top scorer at 19.5 ppg and also leads the league in assists (6.6) and minutes played (35.5). Chicago State's Ines Mata Boix is the leader in rebounding (11.6), blocked shots (2.4) and defensive rebounds (8.5). Kansas City's Leilah Vigil holds the top field goal percentage (.535) while SU's Joanna Alves holds the top free throw percentage (.826).  CBU's Emma Meriggioli is the top three-point shooter (.426), as well as the leader in assist/turnover ratio (2.5), while CSUB's Alexxus Gilbert is averaging the most three-pointers per game (2.4). Her 'Runners teammate Jazmine Johnson is the leader in steals (3.2) and CBU's Britney Thomas is tops in offensvier rebounds per game (4.0).
 
MILLENIUM CLUB
Kansas City senior Kristen Moore is the latest WAC player to score 1,000 career points having accomplished the feat on Dec. 5 at Missouri. NM State senior Brooke Salas is the only other active 1,000-point scorer in the WAC. 
 
TRIPLE THE FUN
Kansas City guard Ericka Mattingly recorded the seventh triple-double in WAC history on Nov. 29, scoring 15 points to go with 10 rebounds and 12 assists in a win over Peru State. NM State guard Brooke Salas got in on the fun on Dec. 21, earning her first career triple-double in a win over Alcorn State, scoring 32 points to go along with 22 rebounds and 11 blocks. It also marked four triple-doubles in 2018 in the WAC as Seattle U's Alexis Montgomery accomplished the feat twice during conference play last season. 
 
STORMING BACK
Down 59-52 with 5:03 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Kansas City Roos put together a 17-0 run on the road to earn a 69-59 win at North Dakota State on Dec. 2.
 
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.