Willamette Women's Basketball Players Set to Build for Future

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

SALEM, ORE. -- The 2009-10 Willamette Bearcats are focusing on the near future. After an emotional 2008-09 season, the team is hoping a combination of old and new will help change the culture of Willamette women’s basketball.

Willamette opens the season this weekend with games on Friday, Nov. 20 and Saturday, Nov. 21 at the Eastern Oregon University Tournament in La Grande, Ore. The Bearcats will take on the College of Idaho on Friday at 7 p.m. (PST) and will face Eastern Oregon on Saturday at 5 p.m.

The team is led by first-year Head Coach Anne Lapray. The Bearcats return five players, three of which were starters last season.

Inside the paint, Willamette will look to returners Keilyn Fujioka (Jr.), Nicki Clowdsley (Sr.) and Kaileigh Westermann (So.). Fujioka will be competing in her first full season since her freshman year in 2006-07. Following that season, Fujioka was named Honorable Mention All-Northwest Conference.

Clowdsley continues to improve her game each season. As a junior, she contributed 4.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Westermann, who will also see time at the guard position, averaged just over four points and four rebounds a game as a freshman.

Adding depth inside is transfer student Shayna Glynn (Jr.). Glynn joins WU following two seasons at Walla Walla Community College. Glynn adds a soft shooting touch, enthusiasm and vocal leadership to the Bearcat squad.

In the backcourt, WU will be led by junior Alex Zennan. Zennan averaged 12.7 points and shot 34% from the 3-point line last season. She has scored 482 points in her two years at WU.

Along with Zennan, the Bearcats return two strong guards in Erin Barclay (Jr.) and Maya McFaddin (So.). Barclay will need to be a vocal leader on the floor as the point guard. McFaddin will provide WU will some versatility at the guard positions. Her consistent intensity on defense will contribute significantly to the Bearcats' success.

Willamette adds four new freshmen to their roster: Sophie Wilson, Lauren Vannini, Xochitl Salinas and Sveta Krishna.

George Fox University, the defending NCAA Division III National Champion, is the early favorite to repeat as NWC champions. The University of Puget Sound and Whitman College are expected to field strong teams.

Alex Zennan averaged 12.7 points per game for the Bearcats last season.

Alex Zennan averaged 12.7 points per game for the Bearcats last season.