Bearcats Picked Eighth in NWC Preseason Poll

By Sara Brooks, Assistant Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6219

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University women's basketball team is predicted to finish eighth in the Northwest Conference preseason poll, as voted on by the league's head coaches. The Bearcats finished 3-13 in the NWC last season.

Willamette received 17 points in the poll, four points higher than Linfield College. George Fox University is picked to finish first after winning the NCAA Division III National Championship last season with a perfect 32-0 record. The University of Puget Sound received one first place vote and is predicted to finish second. Whitman College, who returns First Team All-NWC guard Hilary White, is picked to finish third.

Pacific University, who made a strong run at the end of the 2008-09 season, and Whitworth University are tied for fourth place in the poll. Lewis & Clark College and Pacific Lutheran University were selected in sixth and seventh place.

The Bearcats open play on Nov. 20 at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, Ore. WU will play two games in La Grande before heading back home to Salem to participate in the Bruce Henderson Memorial Capital City Classic. After a trip to Los Angeles and three more nonconference games, Willamette will open NWC play on Jan. 2 against Whitworth University.

Head coach Anne Lapray enters her first season with a mix of returning players and newcomers. Juniors Alex Zennan (G, Sammamish, WA/Eastlake HS) and Erin Barclay (PG, Snohomish, WA/Bothell HS) and sophomore Maya McFaddin (G, McMinnville, OR/McMinnville HS) will provide experience in the backcourt for the Bearcats. Zennan averaged 12.7 points per game last season.

In the paint, Willamette returns junior Keilyn Fujioka (P, Kailua, HI/Iolani School), senior Nicki Clowdsley (P, Sammamish, WA/Skyline HS), and sophomore Kaileigh Westermann (P, Belfair, WA/South Kitsap HS). Clowdsley averaged 4.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game as a junior.

Inside, Willamette has added transfer Shayna Glynn (Jr., P, Boise, ID/Walla Walla CC). Glynn will provide the Bearcats will depth inside and vocal leadership on the court.

At the guard positions, the Bearcats have added three freshmen to their 2009-10 roster. Sophie Wilson (G, Port Townsend, WA/Port Townsend HS) will see time at both point guard and shooting guard. Lauren Vannini (G, Bellevue, WA/Newport HS) and Xochitl Salinas (G, Susanville, CA/Lassen HS) increase the Bearcat's outside shooting and add depth at the guard positions.

NWC Women's Basketball Poll (1st place votes in parentheses)
1. George Fox (8), 88 points, 32-0 overall, 16-0 NWC in 2008-09
2. Puget Sound (1), 68 points, 18-9 overall, 11-5 NWC
3. Whitman, 61 points, 18-8 overall, 10-6 NWC
4. Pacific, 49 points, 11-14 overall, 10-6 NWC
5. Whitworth, 49 points, 13-12 overall, 7-9 NWC
6. Lewis & Clark, 38 points, 11-14 overall, 5-11 NWC
7. Pacific Lutheran, 31 points, 14-11 overall, 8-8 NWC
8. Willamette, 17 points, 4-18 overall, 3-13 NWC
9. Linfield, 13 points, 3-22 overall, 2-14 NWC

Nicki Clowdsley scored 4.7 points and grabbed 5.9 rebounds per game last season.

Nicki Clowdsley scored 4.7 points and grabbed 5.9 rebounds per game last season.