2012-13 NWC Women's Basketball Season Preview

2012-13 Women's Basketball Coaches Pre-Season Poll:
School (1st) Pts. 2011-12 All 2011-12 NWC
George Fox  (5) 66 32-1 16-0
Lewis & Clark  (4) 58 25-4 14-2
Puget Sound    48 13-13 9-7
Whitman    43 16-10 12-4
Whitworth    40 11-14 7-9
Pacific (Ore.)   25 13-11 6-10
Linfield   23 10-15 4-12
Pacific Lutheran    20 7-18 4-12
Willamette    10 1-24 0-16

(First-place votes in parenthesis. Points awarded on 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis).

George Fox Selected as Preseason NWC Champs

NEWBERG, Ore. - The 2011-12 NCAA Division III national runners-up George Fox Bruins have been selected by the coaches of the Northwest Conference to repeat as conference champions. The Bruins have won or shared the conference crown each of the past six seasons.

George Fox returns three starters from a team that took an undefeated season into the NCAA Division III national championship game before falling to Illinois Wesleyan, including preseason All-American center Hannah Munger.

George Fox University’s 6-5 center was named Second Team All-America in the Bruins’ run to last year’s NCAA Division III women’s basketball national championship game, has been tabbed as a pre-season First Team All-American for the upcoming 2012-13 season by D3hoops.com. 

Munger, a senior from Newberg, Ore., earned Second Team honors from D3hoops.com and received All-America honorable mention from the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, which only picks a First Team. She was also a First Team All-West Region pick by D3hoops and an All-Northwest Conference First Team choice, her third season in a row to be All-NWC First Team.  As a sophomore, she was First Team All-West Region, West Region Player of the Year, and Third Team All-America as chosen by D3hoops. 

George Fox also bring back junior starters Megan Arnoldy and Hayley Cusick. Arnoldy, a 5-11 forward, averaged 8.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Cusick averaged 5.4 points and 1.4 assists per game.

The loss of Northwest Conference Player of the Year Keisha Gordon and her 14.2 points and 6.6 rebounds a game could prove difficult to fill. But the Bruins don't rebuild, they reload, and are poised again to finish atop the conference standings for the seventh consecutive year.

Picked to finish second behind George Fox are the Lewis & Clark Pioneers, receiving four first-place votes. Lewis & Clark enters the 2012-2013 season ranked as the 11th best team in Division III basketball according to the D3hoops.com.

The Pioneers, who made it to the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament for the second consecutive year during the 2011-2012 season, graduate four seniors from that team which included three starters.

Despite a relatively new look this season, the Pioneers will return Northwest Conference First-Team recipient Kristina Williams who became the fastest player in L&C history to score 1,000 career points. Williams will be rejoined by Sara Villanueva who earned NWC All-Conference Second-Team honors last season.  

Williams and Villanueva return the majority of the Pioneers offensive presence, with Williams averaging 15.3 points a game and Villanueva adding 11.4. The duo also led the team in assists, free-throw percentage and three-point percentage last season.

Puget Sound (48 points) are picked to finish third. The Loggers finished fourth in the Norhwest Conference in 2011-12 with a 9-7 conference record. Jocelyn Riordan is the only starter gone from a year ago. Riordan was the third leading scorer for the Loggers, averaging 9.4 points a game.

Whitman, gathering 43 points, projects to finish fourth in the NWC. The Missionaries finished third in the conference a season ago (16-10, 12-4 NWC). 

Whitman return many of their forwards and post players from last season. The question is in their backcourt having lost Jenele Peterson (First Team All-NWC) who started every game throughout her career. 

Whitworth (40 points) is slotted fifth in the preseason poll. Though the Bucs lose the top scorer from the 2011-12 campaign (First Team All-Northwest Conference Lexi Belcher), Whitworth returns 11 players from last year's roster and 10 of the top 12 scorers. Whitworth will also feature some new faces, as the Pirates have seven true freshmen on the roster.

The Pacific (Ore.) University Boxers (25 points) are picked to finish sixth, which is where they finished 2011-12. Pacific (Ore.) lost top scorer Erica Schultz (13.9 PPG) but do return Second Team All-Northwest Conference forward Paige Jensen. Jensen led the Boxers with 8.8 rebounds per game.

Linfield (23 points) comes in ranked seventh. The Wildcats have a huge gap to fill with the loss of Gretchen Owens. The 5-8 guard led the Wildcats in points per game, rebounds per game, assists, steals and three-point shooting.

Pacific Lutheran falls in at eighth earning 20 points. The Lutes return three starters from a squad that finished eighth in the Northwest Conference in 2011-12 along bringing in a strong recruiting class. PLU does however lose their two best three-point shooters in Shelly Kilcup and Sara Backstrom.

Picked to finish nineth are the Bearcats of Willamette (10 points). Willamette finished with just one win in their 25 games a season ago. 

Willamette brings in a new head coach in Peg Swadener. Swadener was formerly the associate head coach of women's basketball at Portland State University. 

The Bearcats lost top scorer and rebounder Kaileigh Westermann. Westermann averaged 9.5 points and 7.8 rebounds a game last season.

The Northwest Conference champion is determined by the regular season schedule.  The league will use a conference tournament, comprised of the top four teams in the final regular season standings, to decide the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The season officially gets underway on November 15th.