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This Week in WAC Women's Basketball - Feb. 5

This Week in WAC Women's Basketball - Feb. 5

Complete Release (PDF)

 
CBU'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 Jan. 28 through Feb. 3. This marks her third honor of the season.
 
Thomas, a junior forward from San Jacinto, Calif. (San Jacinto HS), scored 39 points in Saturday's 100-83 win over Seattle U. It marks the highest point total in the WAC since Louisiana Tech's Keila Shelton scored 45 points against UTSA on Feb. 7, 2013. Against the Redhawks, she was 17-of-23 from the field, tying the conference mark for most field goals made in a game, and she brought down 11 rebounds for her 13th double-double of the season and fifth in WAC play. She also scored 14 points with nine rebounds and a pair of blocks in Thursday's win over Utah Valley.
 
Other nominees included: Kansas City's Ericka Mattingly averaged 17.5 ppg on 50-percent shooting  and added 5.5 assists per game in a pair of home losses … NM State's Gia Pack scored a season-high 32 points at Kansas City and added 13 at Chicago State to become the 24th player in program history to score 1,000 points … UT Rio Grande Valley's Madison Northcutt scored a career-high 22 points with 13 rebounds in the Vaqueros' upset win at Kansas City on Saturday.
 
UP NEXT
The second half of conference play kicks off this week, beginning with California Baptist at Chicago State, Grand Canyon at UT Rio Grande Valley and CSU Bakersfield at NM State on Thursday. On Saturday, CBU continues the road trip at Kansas City, Grand Canyon goes to NM State, Seattle U visits Utah Valley and CSU Bakersfield wraps up the week at UT Rio Grande Valley.
 
BY THE NUMBERS
Newcomer California Baptist leads the league in scoring offense (78.4), scoring margin (+11.4), field goal defense (.377), rebounding offense (43.9), assists (19.7), assist/turnover ratio (1.3), defensive rebounds (31.0) and three-point field goals (9.6). UT Rio Grande Valley has the top scoring defense (61.7) while Utah Valley is the leader in free throw percentage (.735), field goal percentage (.428), three-point percentage (.329) and rebounding defense (35.6). Seattle U holds the top three-point defense (.272) and NM State is the leader in rebounding margin (+3.9). Chicago State is the blocks leader (4.3), CSU Bakersfield is the steals leader (12.2) and turnover margin leader (+5.43), and Kansas City leads in offensive rebounds (14.0).
 
Individually, UMKC's Ericka Mattingly leads the league in scoring (18.9), assists (6.1), steals (2.9) and free throw percentage (.807). CSU's Ines Mata Boix is the leader in rebounding (11.5) and blocks (2.2). CBU's Britney Thomas is the field goal percentage leader (.556) while teammate Emma Meriggioli is the leader in three-point field goal percentage (.452) and assist/turnover ratio (2.5). UMKC's Emily Ivory is averaging a league-high 2.8 three-pointers per game.
 
In WAC-only play, Kansas City is the leader in scoring offense (76.9), free throw percentage (.727) and is tied with CSU Bakersfield for the lead in offensive rebounds (14.3). CSUB is also the leader in steals (12.3) and turnover margin (+6.00). UT Rio Grande Valley holds the top scoring defense (58.6), rebounding defense (32.5) and rebounding margin (+7.2). California Baptist holds the top scoring margin (+10.9), field goal percentage (.439), field goal defnese (.367), rebounding offense (42.4), assists (20.1), assist/turnover ratio (1.3), defensive rebounds (31.0) and three-point field goals made (8.5). Utah Valley holds the top three-point percentage (.377) while Chicago State is tops in blocks (3.9). Grand Canyon holds the top three-point defense (.254).
 
Indvidually, UMKC's Mattingly and NM State's Brooke Salas are tied for the scoring lead (17.9) with Salas also holding the lead in rebounding (13.0) and steals (2.8). CBU's Thomas is the leader in field goal percentage (.596) and blocks (1.9) and teammate Ane Olaeta is averaging a league-high 5.6 assists per game. CSU's Tyeshia Bowers and SU's Olivia Crawford are tied for the lead in free throw percentage (.818) and SU's Courtney Murphy holds the top three-point percentage (.510). UMKC's Ivory is the leader in three-pointers made (3.6). CBU's Meriggioli has the top assist/turnover ratio (2.5).
 
FREE BASKETBALL!!!
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.
 
MILLENIUM CLUB
NM State junior Gia Pack is the latest WAC player to score 1,000 career points after passing the millenium mark on Feb. 2 at Chicago State. She joins Kansas City senior Kristen Moore and NM State senior teammate Brooke Salas as the only active 1,000-point scoreres in the WAC.
 
LANCING THE RECORD BOOK
While California Baptist is only in its first year in the WAC, the Lancers have been making an impact on the record book this season. CBU's 133-43 win over Westcliff on Jan. 17 set new conference marks  for most points in a game, scoring margin, field goals made and three-pointers made. On Jan. 31, the Lancers set a new conference record for three-point attempts with 44 in an 83-54 win over Utah Valley. Just two days later, junior Britney Thomas tied the conference mark for field goals in a game with 17 en route to 39 points in a win over Seattle U.
 
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. 
 
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.