Fortier's Zags Are Favorites in Conference As 2015-16 Season Nea - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Fortier's Zags Are Favorites in Conference As 2015-16 Season Nears

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Gonzaga is once again the favorite to win the WCC title. Gonzaga is once again the favorite to win the WCC title.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - With the 2015-16 basketball campaign just over two weeks away, Gonzaga University is once again the preseason favorite to win the West Coast Conference regular season title in the annual poll of the WCC's 10 head coaches. The Bulldogs received six first place votes and 78 points. The poll and the all-conference team were announced Monday at Time Warner Cable Sports studios as part of the Fifth Annual West Coast Conference Basketball Tip-Off event streamed live on TheW.tv. 

Gonzaga has won at least a share of the last 11 WCC regular season championships. The Bulldogs rolled to their seventh straight NCAA Tournament in 2015 after posting a 26-8 overall record to go along with a 16-2 league slate. Gonzaga advanced to the program's fourth Sweet-16 berth since 2010 last season. A pair of seniors collected preseason All-WCC honors: guard Elle Tinkle (11.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and center Shelby Cheslek (7.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.6 blocks). Gonzaga was one of just five programs nationally (Duke, Louisville, Notre Dame and North Carolina) to advance both its men's and women's programs to the NCAA Sweet-16 in 2015. 

Brigham Young University received four first place votes and was picked second in the WCC preseason poll with 76 points. The Cougars won the 2015 WCC Tournament Championship and posted a 23-10 overall slate, 12-6 in league play last season. BYU's senior backcourt was selected to the All-WCC preseason team. All-American Lexi Eaton Rydalch (20.5 ppg, 40.6 3PFG%, 6.5 rpg) led the WCC in scoring as a junior and collects preseason All-WCC honors for the second straight year and is joined by Kylie Maeda (6.2 ppg, 4.2 assists, 2.4 assist/turnover ratio). 

Ten points separated the third through fifth spots on the poll. Saint Mary's College was picked third with 61 points after going 23-11, 13-5 in 2014-15 en route to its sixth straight postseason berth (WNIT). Two senior guards earned spots on the preseason squad for the Gaels: Shannon Mauldin (10.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.4 assists) and Lauren Nicholson (17.6 ppg, 47.0 FG%). The University of San Diego was picked fourth with 58 points. The Toreros competed in their fourth straight WNIT postseason, finishing with a 25-7 overall record, 14-4 in WCC action. Senior forward Malina Hood (15.0 ppg) earned a spot on the preseason squad for the second consecutive year. 

The University of San Francisco advanced to the 2015 WCC Tournament title game en route to its first postseason since 2002 and was picked fifth with 51 points. The Dons went 19-14, 8-10 in league play. Senior forward Taylor Proctor (15.5 ppg, 47.3 FG%, 7.9 rpg) earned a spot on the preseason team. WCC coaches tabbed University of the Pacific sixth with 40 points. The Tigers went 21-10, 13-5 last season and competed in its second straight WNIT postseason as a conference member. Senior guard Hailie Eackles (11.9 ppg, 65 3-pointers) landed a spot on the All-WCC preseason squad. 

Santa Clara University was picked seventh with 30 points, while Loyola Marymount (25), Pepperdine (20) and Portland (11) round out the 2015-16 poll. Senior forward Sophie Taylor (11.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg) landed a spot on the preseason team to represent the Lions. 

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