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UAA Almost Unanimous To Repeat In Preseason Poll
UAA's Kiki Robertson was the GNAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2014-15, leading the conference in steals (100) and assists (180).
UAA's Kiki Robertson was the GNAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2014-15, leading the conference in steals (100) and assists (180).

Friday, October 16, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. – With 10 of 11 first place votes, Alaska Anchorage was almost unanimously voted to win its second straight title in the 2015-16 GNAC Preseason Women’s Basketball Coaches Poll.

The Seawolves received 120 of 121 possible points in the preseason poll. They finished the 2014-15 season with a 29-2 record and first place in the GNAC regular season at 17-1. They were the GNAC Tournament Champions and hosted the NCAA West Regional Tournament, falling to Point Loma in the first round.

Western Washington was picked second in the poll with 104 points. They tied Seattle Pacific for second place during the 2014-15 regular season. The Falcons were picked for third place in the poll with 86 points.

Alaska Anchorage began its season with 12-straight wins before suffering its first setback on New Years Day against Northwest Nazarene. The Seawolves responded with an even longer win streak of 17 games heading into the NCAA West Regional Tournament. They finished ranked No. 1 in the USA Today Coaches Poll heading into the national tournament, ending the season at No. 13.

GNAC Coach of the Year Ryan McCarthy returns four of his five starters from last season, including GNAC Defensive Player of the Year Kiki Robertson and GNAC Newcomer of the Year Megan Mullings. Mullings was also named to the First Team All-GNAC and was selected to Division II Bulletin’s preseason Super 16 List. Robertson was on the Second Team All-GNAC and an honorable mention on the preseason Super 16 List. Mullings led the Seawolves with 13.6 points per game and was the conference leader in field goal percentage (.604), ranking fourth in Division II. Robertson led the GNAC in assists (180) and steals (100) and had an assist/turnover ratio of 2.1. Overall, the Seawolves return eight letter winners including Honorable Mention All-GNAC guard Jenna Buchanan. Also returning is starting forward Alysha Devine and seniors Jessica Madison, Adriana Dent and Christina Davis. The Seawolves lose Honorable Mention All-GNAC forwards Alli Madison and KeKe Wright.

Western Washington enters the poll in second after tying for second place in the 2014-15 regular season. The Vikings entered the conference tournament as the No. 3 seed. They defeated Central Washington in the opening round, before knocking off Seattle Pacific in the semifinals. In the final round, they were defeated by host Alaska Anchorage, effectively ending their season as they narrowly missed the cut to the national tournament.

The Vikings return just two starters, but seven overall letter winners. Second Team All-GNAC center Kayla Bernsen returns for her senior season after averaging 11.7 points per game and 6.7 rebounds. Junior guard Taylor Peacocke was also named Second Team All-GNAC last season, leading the team with 13.5 points per game. The Vikings also bring back junior forwards Tia Briggs, Kiana Gandy, Aleisha Hathaway and Rachel Albert. The team will need to replace First Team All-GNAC guard Jenni White, honorable mention Katie Colard and starter Sydney Donaldson who averaged 8.3 points per game and 4.9 rebounds.

Seattle Pacific was voted to finish third place in this year’s preseason poll. The Falcons were 22-7 overall and 13-5 in conference to finish tied for second place in the GNAC. They were the No. 2-seed in the conference tournament, but fell to Western Washington in the semifinal round. The Falcons’ season did not end there, however, as they were the No. 6 seed in the NCAA West Regionals. The Falcons upset No. 3 seeded Humboldt State in the opening round, but had their season ended in the second round by Cal Poly Pomona.

The Falcons return one starter this season in junior Hannah Rodrigues, who averaged 5.7 points per game and 4.7 rebounds last year. They return eight total players, including senior center Molly Grager (3.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg), and guards Stacey Lukasiewicz (2.7 ppg, .509 FG), Rachel Shim, Courtney Hollander (3.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg) and Jordan McPhee. The Falcons also replenished their depth with sophomore transfer Madison Wright out of Southern Utah and freshman Jaylee Albert, Riley Evans and Carly Rataushk. Seattle Pacific loses First Team All-GNAC guards Aubree Callen and Suzanna Ohlsen, along with starters Betsy Kingma and Maddey Pflaumer.

Central Washington enters the poll in fourth place after finishing sixth in the GNAC last season. The Wildcats reached the conference tournament, but were defeated by Western Washington in the opening round. They ended their season 12-15 overall, 7-11 in the GNAC. The team returns a strong core of eight players, losing just three from the past year. The Wildcats will be led by experience, with four seniors returning. Jasmine Parker was Honorable Mention All-GNAC (10.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg), while Melanie Valdez, India Matheson and Alexis Berrysmith bring senior experience and leadership.

Also returning for the Wildcats is sophomore point guard Jasmin Edwards who is the team’s returning scorer at 12.2 points per game. Edwards was the GNAC Freshman of the Year and a Second Team All-GNAC selection. The team also brings in junior transfer Kortney Grattic from Whatcom Community College, along with freshmen JonNae Richardson and McKenzie Day. The Wildcats lose Honorable Mention All-GNAC guard Courtney Johnson and starting guard Ericka Locker.

Simon Fraser are picked fifth with 69 points. The Clan finished last season in fourth place with a 15-13 record, 10-8 GNAC. The team won its first game of the GNAC Championship Tournament over Saint Martin’s, but fell in the semifinals to eventual tournament champion Alaska Anchorage. The Clan return seven letter winners, losing four including two starters. The team will tasked with replacing GNAC Player of the Year Erin Chambers, who set a conference scoring record with 23.9 points per game.

Senior Meg Wilson is the team’s leading returning scorer (12.9 ppg) and rebounder (8.7 rpg). Wilson was named Honorable Mention All-GNAC last season. Along with Wilson, the Clan returns starters Rachel Fradgley (7.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, .533 FG) and Ellen Kett (5.2 ppg, 153 assists). Other returners include senior Alisha Roberts, Smanatha Beauchamp and Elisa Homer. Among the newcomers is freshman Sophie Swant. Also departing from last season is Honorable Mention All-GNAC guard Katie Lowan.

Northwest Nazarene is expected to greatly improve to sixth place this season after finishing tied for ninth last year. The Crusaders received 68 points and the other first place vote. Led by Second Team All-GNAC guard Taylor Simmons, the Crusaders are the only team to bring all five starters. Simmons led the team with 13.7 points per game, 105 assists and 94 steals. She is joined by Honorable Mention All-GNAC sophomore Ellie Logan who was second on the team with 13.3 points per game.

The Crusaders return seven players overall, losing just three. Cierra White (6.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg) and Katie Swanson (4.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg) return for their senior seasons, joined by an experienced group of sophomores that includes Logan, Coco Gall (10.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 36 steals) and Lexi Tubbs (9.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 41 steals). The Crusaders lose just two regular players in Kayla Schuman and Ellen Ferrenburg.

Saint Martin’s and Montana State Billings each received 55 points in the poll to tie for seventh place. The Saints finished fifth last season, punching their ticket to the GNAC Championship Tournament after finishing 11-16 overall, 8-10 in league. Overall, the team returns six letterwinners, but loses six as well. Senior guard Krista Stabler leads the backcourt after earning Honorable Mention All-GNAC last season. Stabler led the Saints with 12.1 points per game, 3.1 rebounds and a .385 field goal percentage.

Stabler is joined by senior Megan Wiedeman who led the conference with 9.5 rebounds per game and 7.0 defensive rebounds. Stabler and Wiedeman are the lone two returning starters, but are joined by Elin Johansson, a sophomore forward who averaged 6.7 points per game and 3.7 rebounds off the bench. The Saints will need contributions from new players such as Shelbie Drey, a transfer forward out of Phoenix College. The list of losses for the Saints includes forward Liz Mills, Brooke Paulson, Angela Gelhar and MacKenzie Taylor.

Montana State Billings tied for seventh last season. They finished the year 14-14, but 6-12 in the GNAC. The Yellowjackets return seven letterwinners, losing three. The return of senior forward Janiel Olson will be a boost to the team after she missed the entire 2014-15 season with a torn ACL. Olson was the 2014 GNAC Defensive Player of the Year and a member of the first team in her junior season. She is joined by Honorable Mention All-GNAC junior forward Alisha Breen, who averaged 15.5 points per game and 7.6 rebounds last season.

The Yellowjackets will also return starting point guard Rylee Kane. Kane started every game as a true freshman last season, averaging 5.0 points per game while dishing out 3.2 assists. Former MSUB volleyball player Monica Grimsrud returns for her second year with the basketball team (3.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg). Transfer Tiana Hanson will likely play a role with the team after averaging a double-double last season at Sheridan College (20.7 ppg, 10.5 rpg). The Yellowjackets will have to fill the shoes of First Team All-GNAC forward Kayleen Goggins, who was second in the conference last season in scoring (20.0 ppg).

Alaska joins the poll in ninth after tying MSUB for seventh place last season at 14-14 and 6-12 in the GNAC. The Nanooks return a strong core, including four starters from last season and a group of eight upperclassmen that played considerable minutes. Junior forward Jordan Wilson led the Nanooks with 15.6 points per game with a .502 field goal percentage and 5.6 rebounds per game. The Nanooks bring back forwards Kaillee Skjold (9.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and Stephanie Toumson (9.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg).

Senior guard Arinesha Smith returns after starting in 16 games last season. Smith averaged 8.8 points per game and 3.0 assists. Autumn Childers (4.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg) is back for her junior season after playing in all 28 games last year. The Nanooks lose one key player from last season in guard Benissa Bulaya, who averaged 11.1 points per game and dished out 5.1 assists per game, good for third in the GNAC. Bulaya was Honorable Mention All-GNAC in her final season.

Western Oregon tied for eighth place in the 2014-15 season are picked 10th with 31 points. The Wolves finished the season 8-18 and 5-13 in the GNAC. The team returns three starters and seven overall letterwinners, losing five players and two starters. Junior guard Jordan Mottershaw headlines the group of returning starters, averaging 12.0 points per game, shooting .361 from the field. Sami Osborne broke out in the second half for the Wolves as a true freshman, starting 13 games and averaging 8.8 points and 6.2 rebounds.

Center Emily Howey is back with the Wolves in her senior season after starting 12 games last year. The 6-foot-3 Howey averaged 3.8 points, 2.2 rebounds and shot .519 from the field. Sophomores Sydney Azorr and Jasmine Miller are also back after receiving playing time as freshman. The Wolves also welcome two transfer guards in Jazmin Bembry (Southwest Oregon) and Launia Davis (Walla Walla). Western Oregon lost Second Team All-GNAC forward Dana Goularte, guard Elise Miller and forward Angie Titus.

Concordia is picked 11th in the preseason poll, with coaches expecting the Cavaliers to have a year adjusting in their first season in the conference. The team does, however, return four starters including leading scorers Sierra Dean (13.7 ppg) and Lexi Campbell (11.0 ppg). The Cavaliers finished 12-16 overall and 6-12 in the Cascade Collegiate Conference last year. Head coach Sean Kelly enters his second season with the Cavaliers, with a chance to build off of last season with a strong nucleus.

Along with Campbell and Dean, the Cavaliers also bring back junior guard Brianna Smith (8.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg), who started 27 games, and senior forward McKenna Daly (7.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg). The Cavaliers recruiting class includes transfer guard Danielle Hartzog out of Colorado Mesa and freshmen Keesha Sarman and Bailey Cartwright. With little turnover in the starting five, the Cavaliers have a chance to surprise the GNAC in their first season.

2015-16 GNAC PRESEASON WOMEN'S BASKETBALL COACHES POLL

Pos. Team (1st Place Votes) Overall
Record
GNAC Record
(Place)
Pts.
1. Alaska Anchorage (10) 29-2 17-1 (1st) 120
2. Western Washington 21-9 13-5 (tie 2nd) 104
3. Seattle Pacific 22-7 13-5 (tie 2nd) 86
4. Central Washington 12-15 7-11 (6th) 83
5. Simon Fraser 15-13 10-8 (4th) 69
6. Northwest Nazarene (1) 7-20 5-13 (tie 9th) 68
7. Saint Martin's 11-16 8-10 (5th) 55
  Montana State Billings 14-14 6-12 (tie 7th) 55
9. Alaska 14-14 6-12 (tie 7th) 40
10. Western Oregon 8-18 5-13 (tie 9th) 31
11. Concordia 12-16 First Year In GNAC 15

Votes awarded on 11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.

 

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