Posted: Jan 08, 2019
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UVU'S CORTEZ NAMED WAC WOMEN"S BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Utah Valley's Alexis Cortez has been named Western Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week for Dec. 31 through Jan. 6.
Cortez, a junior guard from Tucson, Ariz. (Tucson HS), led the Wolverines to a 2-0 weekend to open WAC play and put UVU at the top of the standings. In a 57-46 win over Grand Canyon to open league play, she scored 11 points with four steals and a block. She stepped up again on Saturday in a 78-70 win over CSU Bakersfield, scoring 16 points, including 4-of-5 on three-point shots, to go with 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Other nominees included: California Baptist's Lexy Ram averaged 11.0 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game in a pair of road losses to open WAC play … Grand Canyon's ShaRon Miller hit the game-winning shot in a triple-overtime thriller at Seattle U on Saturday, finishing with 21 points and 11 rebounds … Kansas City's Emily Ivory set a new school record for three-pointers in a game with eight in a 111-58 win at Chicago State … NM State's Brooke Salas recorded her eighth double-double of the year with 20 points and 17 rebounds in a win over California Baptist … UT Rio Grande Valley's Quynne Huggins scored a team-high 15 points in a loss to sixth-ranked Baylor.
Four teams made it through the first week of WAC play with undefeated records and all four teams will take that perfect record onto the road. NM State and UT Rio Grande Valley head to Grand Canyon and CSU Bakersfield, California Baptist plays host to Kansas City and Chicago State and Utah Valley makes the trip to Seattle U on Saturday.
BY THE NUMBERS
Kansas City leads the league in scoring offense (75.7) and the Roos are also on top in scoring margin (+6.1) and offensive rebounds (13.9). UT Rio Grande Valley is the top team in scoring defense (63.1) while NM State is the leader in field goal defense (.369) and rebounding margin (+3.3). Utah Valley leads the WAC in free throw percentage (.780), field goal percentage (.439) and rebounding defense (34.4). Grand Canyon is tops in three point shooting (.363) while Seattle U holds the top three-point defense (.261). California Baptist leads the league in rebounding offense (42.6), assists (17.6), assist/turnover ratio (1.1), defensive rebounds (30.4) and three-pointers made (9.1). Chicago State is the top shot-blocking team (4.6) and CSU Bakersfield is the leader in steals (12.3) and turnover margin (+5.40).
Individually, UMKC's Ericka Mattingly is the top scorer at 19.4 ppg and also leads the league in assists (6.6) and steals (3.4). Chicago State's Ines Mata Boix is the top rebounder (11.6) and shot blocker (2.4). UMKC's Leilah Vigil has the top field goal percentage (.535), CSUB's Alexxus Gilbert has the top free throw percentage (.865) and CBU's Emma Meriggioli has the top three-point percentage (.400). Merriggioli also has the top assist/turnover ratio (2.3) while UMKC's Emily Ivory is the leader in three-point field goals made (2.6).
Grand Canyon's triple-overtime win over Seattle U on Jan. 5 was the eighth three-overtime game featuring a WAC school in conference history and the fifth in WAC play. The record for longest women's basketball game in WAC history is a quadruple-overtime game on Jan. 25, 1997 that saw SMU earn a 127-125 win over TCU.
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 marks four triple-doubles in 2018 in the WAC as Seattle U's Alexis Montgomery accomplished the feat twice during conference play last season.
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.
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.