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This Week in WAC Women's Basketball - Nov. 4

This Week in WAC Women's Basketball - Nov. 4

Complete Release (PDF)

HERE WE GO
Tuesday marks the first day of the 2019-20 season and the WAC will hit the ground running. Chicago State opens play with a day game at Illinois while Utah Valley heads to the coast to take on UC Santa Barbara. Among the teams opening the season at home, Grand Canyon hosts Benedictine (Mesa), Kansas City hosts Denver, California Baptist host Long Beach State and CSU Bakersfield hosts Cal State Dominguez Hills. Seattle U opens the season on Wednesday at home against Saint Martin's while UT Rio Grande Valley and NM State open up on Thursday at home against Texas Southern and UC Riverside respectively. 
 
STAT LEADERS BACK
Kansas City's Ericka Mattingly returns for her senior season after leading the WAC in scoring (19.8), assists (6.0), free throw percentage (.817), steals (3.2) and minutes played (35.5). California Baptist's Britney Thomas is also back after leading the league in field goal percentage (.577). Kansas City sharpshooter Emily Ivory will look for a strong sophomore campaign after averaging a WAC-best 2.7 three-pointers per game and Chicago State senior Ines Mata Boix will look to lead the league in blocked shots again after averaging 1.9 per game last season.
 
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
NM State is the favorite to win the 2018-19 Western Athletic Conference women's basketball title and the Aggies' Gia Pack 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 fifth-straight WAC regular season title last season, received 62 points and six first-place votes in the preseason poll. California Baptist picked up two first-place votes for a total of 57 points and Kansas City earned the remaining first-place vote and 44 points. UT Rio Grande Valley was picked fourth with 40 points while CSU Bakersfield earned fifth with 35 points. Utah Valley was selected sixth with 29 points, followed by Grand Canyon, Seattle U and Chicago State.
 
Pack leads the list of Preseason All-WAC honorees. Joining her on the first team are Utah Valley's Jordan Holland, Kansas City's Ericka Mattingly and California Baptist duo Ane Olaeta and Britney Thomas.
 
Second team selections include CSU Bakersfield's Vanessa Austin, Grand Canyon's Da'jah Daniel, UT Rio Grande Valley pair Amara Graham and Megan Johnson and Seattle U's Kamira Sanders.
 
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 2019-20 and Kansas City's Ericka Mattingly as the WAC Preseason Player of the Year.
 
The Aggies earned eight first place votes from the media to collect 110 points to top the poll. California Baptist is second with three first place votes and 96 points overall. Kansas City was right behind the 'Runners with the Roos earning two first place votes and 92 points. UT Rio Grande Valley came in fourth with 66 points, followed by Utah Valley in fifth with 64 points. CSU Bakersfield is sixth with 57 points, followed by Seattle U in seventh, Grand Canyon in eighth and Chicago State in ninth.
 
Mattingly leads the list of Preseason All-WAC honorees. Joining her on the first team are Utah Valley's Jordan Holland, NM State's Gia Pack, Seattle U's Kamira Sanders and California Baptist's Britney Thomas.
 
Second team selections include Seattle U's Joana Alves, CSU Bakersfield's Jayden Eggleston, UT Rio Grande Valley's Megan Johnson, Chicago State's Ines Mata Boix and California Baptist's Ane Olaeta.
 
RETURNING ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS
Three of the five First Team All-WAC players from last season return for the 2017-18 season as WAC Preseason Players of the Year Ericka Mattingly of Kansas City and Gia Pack of NM State return, along with California Baptist's Britney Thomas. Four of the five second team honorees also returns as Seattle U's Joana Alves, Grand Canyon's Da'jah Daniel, Utah Valley's Jordan Holland and California Baptist's Ane Olaeta hit the hardwood.
 
NEW LEADER IN OREM
After three new coaches in each of the last two seasons, Utah Valley's Dan Nielson is the lone rookie head coach in the WAC this season. A former UVU assistant, he most recently was on the bench at nearby Brigham Young, helping lead the Cougars to the WCC Tournament title last season.
 
WAC ATTITUDE ON ALTITUDE
The WAC Digital Network is producing a 30-minute WAC Basketball Preview Show in advance of the upcoming season. 
 
WDN on-air talent Rachel Vigil is the host of the 2019-20 WAC Basketball Preview Show, which has features on California Baptist guard Milan Acquaah, NM State's Gia Pack and the inspirational story of Seattle U team dancer Teresa Buchholz. Altitude Sports Network will air the show 25 times during the month of November. The WAC starts its 58th season of men's basketball and its 30th of women's basketball 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. Five of nine schools return a majority of starters, including Utah Valley returning all five starters from last season. California Baptist and Seattle U each bring back four starters and Grand Canyon boasts three starters returning.
 
 
KEY NON-CONFERENCE MATCHUPS
This season, WAC teams will face some tough competition in the non-conference portion of the schedule, with 15 games against NCAA Tournament participants and 14 against Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) participants. The complete list is below.
 
Games vs. NCAA Teams
Nov. 10 - CSU Bakersfield at Gonzaga
Nov. 19 - CSU Bakersfield at Wright State
Nov. 20 - UT Rio Grande Valley at Texas
Nov. 26 - Utah Valley at Boise State
Nov. 28 - California Baptist vs. Stanford (Victoria Invitational)
Dec. 1 - Kansas City at Missouri State
Dec. 6 - Grand Canyon at Portland State
Dec. 8 - Missouri at Kansas City
Dec. 14 - Utah Valley at Brigham Young
Dec. 14 - Kansas State at Kansas City
Dec. 18 - Arizona State at NM State
Dec. 28 - NM State at Abilene Christian
Dec. 28 - UT Rio Grande Valley at Kansas State
Dec. 29 - Grand Canyon at California
Dec. 29 - CSU Bakersfield at Oregon State
 
Games vs. WNIT Teams
Nov. 5 - Denver at Kansas City
Nov. 8 - Kansas City at Pacific
Nov. 9 - Chicago State at UTA
Nov. 9 - NM State at Denver
Nov. 11 - Seattle U at Idaho State
Nov. 12 - Arizona at Chicago State
Nov. 17 - New Mexico at NM State
Nov. 20 - Pepperdine at NM State
Nov. 20 - Idaho at Seattle U
Nov. 23 - Chicago State at Green Bay
Dec. 3 - Idaho State at Utah Valley
Dec. 7 - Pacific at CSU Bakersfield
Dec. 16 - California Baptist at Idaho State
Dec. 16 - NM State at New Mexico
 
ORLEANS ARENA IN LAS VEGAS TO HOST 2020 WAC TOURNAMENT
The 2020 WAC Basketball Tournament returns to the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas for the 10th year in a row. This year's tournament includes all eight eligible teams and will be held Wednesday-Saturday, March 11-14.