Willamette Picked Ninth in NWC Women's Basketball Preseason Poll

Season Tips off Thursday, Nov. 15 at Concordia

By Brandon Chinn, Athletics Communications Writer

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University women's basketball team has been picked to finish ninth in the Northwest Conference Preseason Poll for the 2012-13 season. Defending NWC champion George Fox University was predicted to repeat as champions for the seventh consecutive year. 

The NWC Preseason Poll, which came out on Nov. 7, was voted on by the nine head coaches in the conference. George Fox received five of the nine first place votes to lead the poll with 66 points. The Bruins finished last season with a 32-1 overall record, after going undefeated (16-0) in conference play on their way to becoming the NCAA Division III national runners-up.

GFU begins 2012-13 ranked #2 in the nation according to the D3hoops.com Preseason Top 25. Lewis & Clark College (25-4, 14-2 NWC) is ranked #11 in the nation and is positioned second in the NWC poll. The Pioneers picked up the remaining four first place votes for 58 points.

The University of Puget Sound (13-13, 9-7 NWC) is slotted third in the poll with 48 points. Returning four starters to the court from last season, the Loggers are looking to improve on their fourth place conference finish in 2011-12.

In fourth place in the poll is Whitman College (16-10, 12-4 NWC) with 43 points. The Missionaries finished last season ahead of UPS for third place in the NWC.

Rounding out the preseason projections were Whitworth University (11-14, 7-9 NWC) in fifth place with 40 points , Pacific University (13-11, 6-10 NWC) in sixth with 25 points, Linfield College (10-15, 4-12 NWC) in seventh place with 23 points, Pacific Lutheran University (7-18, 4-12 NWC) in eighth with 20 points, and Willamette University (1-24, 0-16) projected to finish ninth with 10 points.

The Bearcats, who finished last season winless in conference play, look to improve under new Head Coach Peg Swadener, who spent the past five seasons as an assistant coach with the women's basketball team at Portland State University. She was promoted to associate head coach at PSU in 2008 and was named Willamette's head coach in June.

Willamette graduated three starters from a year ago, including its leading scorer in Kaileigh Westermann, who averaged 9.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. The other two graduating seniors were Maya McFaddin, who provided 4.9 points and 3.1 rebounds a game, and Dorah Rabih, who averaged 4.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.

The Bearcats' roster is filled with youth this season, as the team features only one senior among four freshmen, seven sophomores and two juniors.

Sophie Wilson (G, Port Townsend, WA/Port Townsend HS), the only senior, looks to bring Willamette leadership while also contributing on the floor. Wilson averaged 3.4 points per game and also connected on 11 shots from behind the 3-point arc last season.

Willamette's top returning scorer is Mackenzie Lamson (Jr., F, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS), who finished last year ranked second on the team with 8.1 points per game. She scored 17 points twice during the season and reached double figures six times.

Sophomores Jojo DeLong (G, Santa Clarita, CA/Canyon HS) and Katie Kalugin (F, Woodburn, OR/Woodburn HS) will look to build on their strong efforts from last season. DeLong averaged 5.2 points and dished out 61 assists (2.4 avg.) while starting all 25 games last year.

Kalugin played in 24 games last season and averaged 2.8 points per game. She is already off to a great start this year, having scored 29 points on 12 of 14 shooting in an exhibition win over Lower Columbia College on Friday, Nov. 9.

The Bearcats have gained depth at the center position thanks in part to the arrival of Jo Johnston (Fr., Missoula, MT/Florence-Carlton HS). Julia Brand (So. F, Kaneohe, HI/Punahou School) will also contribute inside. Brand averaged 4.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in 2011-12.

Willamette hopes to build on its 73-68 victory over Lower Columbia College as the Bearcats play their season-opener on Thursday, Nov. 15 at Concordia University in Portland, Ore. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. (PST).

2012-13 NWC Women's Basketball Preseason Poll
(1st place votes in parentheses)

1. George Fox (5), 66 points, 32-1 overall, 16-0 NWC in 2011-12
2. Lewis & Clark (4), 58 points, 25-4, 14-2 NWC
3. Puget Sound, 48 points, 13-13, 9-7 NWC
4. Whitman, 43 points, 16-10, 12-4 NWC
5. Whitworth, 40 points, 11-14, 7-9 NWC
6. Pacific, 25 points, 13-11, 6-10 NWC
7. Linfield, 23 points, 10-15, 4-12 NWC
8. Pacific Lutheran, 20 points, 7-18, 4-12 NWC
9. Willamette, 10 points, 1-24, 0-16 NWC

Note: Points were awarded on an 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. The coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams.

Willamette at Concordia
Nov. 15, 2012

Concordia's Audio Webcast
Concordia's Live Stats
Mackenzie Lamson is Willamette's top returning scorer after averaging 8.1 points per game last season.

Mackenzie Lamson is Willamette's top returning scorer after averaging 8.1 points per game last season.