Eagles women's basketball picked to finish 6th in Big Sky - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Eagles women's basketball picked to finish 6th in Big Sky

Photo: EWU Athletics Photo: EWU Athletics

By EWU Athletics

OGDEN, Utah – The Big Sky Conference Women's Basketball Preseason Polls were released on Friday (Oct. 13), as the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team was predicted to finish sixth in the Media Poll and selected seventh by the Big Sky coaches.
 
Northern Colorado was selected as the preseason favorites in both polls. In the Coaches Poll, the Eagles were edged by Portland State with 75 points, but finished ahead of Idaho State who had 63. In the Media Poll, the Eagles were slated sixth with 118 points, just behind Montana who received 120 points, including two first-place votes.
 
"As far as I'm concerned, it's a preseason poll and really has nothing to do with what our season will look like," said head coach Wendy Schuller, who is set to begin her 17th season at the helm. "We are typically picked in the middle to bottom half of the league and have consistently finished in the upper half and I have the same expectation for our team this year."
 
Last season, the Eagles stayed true to their fourth-place Preseason Coaches Poll prediction, as they racked up their third-consecutive 19-win season with a 19-14 overall record. They also cruised to a 12-6 record in Big Sky play to finish fourth in the regular season standings, earning a first-round bye in the conference tournament. The Eagles continued to prove their preseason voters wrong, as they made it all the way to the semifinals of the Big Sky Tournament. After their semifinals appearance, Eastern advanced to the second round of the Women's Basketball Invtiational.
 
Eastern Washington returns three of its five starters from a year ago, as they lost Tisha Phillips and Ashli Payne to graduation. Phillips and Payne averaged 14.0 and 12.3 points per contest, respectively. However, senior Delaney Hodgins, the recently minted Big Sky Conference Preseason MVP, returns for the Eagles after leading the team with 17.5 points per game last season.
 
Through 98 career games, in which she has started every single one, Hodgins has totaled 1,428 points for a 14.6 points per game average. The total currently places her fifth on the Eastern Washington all-time scoring list, just 23 points out of fourth and 434 out of first. The current record is held by her older sister, Hayley Hodgins (2013-16), with 1,862 points.
 
Also returning for the Eagles are juniors Violet Kapri Morrow and Alissa Sealby, who started 31-of-33 games last season. Morrow contributed with 7.6 points per game while Sealby added 3.3. Both had field goal percentages of well over .400.
 
EWU brings on four true freshman this season who look to make immediate impacts in Cailyn Francis (6-3, C, Yuba City, Calif.), Lily Perkins (5-11, F, West Covina, Calif.), Brittany Klaman (5-11, G, Melbourne, Australia) and Lea Wolff (5-7, G, Leverkusen, Germany).
 
"We have a lot of young talent that will emerge as the season goes on and we have some veterans who have really stepped up their game and are ready to be major contributors for us," added Schuller. "We are working hard and I'm excited about opening up the season in a couple weeks and playing a challenging nonconference schedule that will prepare us for Big Sky play."
 
The Eagles have less than a month until the beginning of the 2017-18 season, as they will hold an exhibition against The Master's at Reese Court on Sunday, Nov. 5 at 1 p.m. Admission is complimentary to the public. The campaign officially opens on Friday, Nov. 10 at Fresno State with tip-off slated for 7:30 p.m.
 
Coaches Poll
Rank – Team – Points (first-place votes)
1. Northern Colorado: 115 (9)
2. North Dakota: 100 (1)
3. Montana: 89 (2)
4. Montana State: 83
5. Idaho: 82
6. Portland State: 75
7. Eastern Washington: 73
8. Idaho State: 63
9. Sacramento State: 37
10. Weber State: 34
11. Northern Arizona: 24
12. Southern Utah: 17
First place votes in parenthesis
 
Media Poll
Rank – Team – Points (first-place votes)
1. Northern Colorado: 176 (8)
2. North Dakota: 156 (2)
3. Montana State: 144 (3)
4. Idaho: 127
5. Montana: 120 (2)
6. Eastern Washington: 118
7. Idaho State: 116
8. Portland State: 110 (1)
9. Weber State: 66
10. Sacramento State: 61
11. Northern Arizona: 34
12. Southern Utah: 20
First place votes in parenthesis

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