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WCC Announces Women's Basketball Preseason Polls and All-Conference

Oct. 15, 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Gonzazga was chosen as the favorite to claim the WCC women's basketball title, as the Zags try to defend their WCC regular season title. The announcement was made at the 2008 WCC Basketball Media Day at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. In addition, the WCC unveiled the 2008-09 Women's Basketball Preseason All-Conference team, highlighted by the return of the reigning WCC Player of the Year, Gonzaga's Heather Bowman.

The Bulldogs, who received seven first place votes for a total of 49 points, lost in the finals of last year's WCC tournament to host San Diego and ended up hosting their first round matchup in the WNIT, where they beat UC Davis. Loyola Marymount received one first place vote and totaled 40 points to come in at second in the voting.

Headlining the group of Gonzaga returners are 2008 WCC Player of the Year Heather Bowman, Defensive Player of the Year Jami Schaefer, and Newcomer of the Year Courtney Vandersloot. Bowman led the WCC in scoring at 20.1 ppg in just her second year in theleague and was third in the conference in rebounding at 8.6 rpg. Schaefer, previously known as Bjorklund, was third on the team in scoring en route to a WCC honorable mention selection. Vandersloot will enter the year as the conference's steals leader and led the team in assists.

Loyola Marymount will be led by sophomore guard Renahy Young, who led the team in scoring at 10.9 ppg and was second in assists with 2.0 apg. In just her first start of her career, Young scored 20 points and hit the game-winning shot against Portland. Also looking to contribute is junior Lisa Helmers, who led the team in three-point shooting with 59 treys and was third in the conference.

San Diego, which won the WCC tournament last year, was picked third in this year's poll, receiving 37 points. The Toreros welcome back one of the most experienced squads with four starters returning. Among the key returners are senior Amber Sprague, who led the team in scoring (15.2 ppg), rebounding (8.7 rpg), and blocks (75), on her way to an All-WCC first team selection, junior Morgan Henderson, wholed the team in threes with 44, and sophomore Sam Child, who made the all-freshmen team. Saint Mary's was selected for a fourth place finish with 29 points. The Gaels, who registered a first round win in last year's conference tournament, return the nation's leading shot blocker in sophomore Louella Tomlinson and a healthy Majia Lahde, who returns after missing the year with a knee injury.

Santa Clara, which finished second in last year's regular season, tallied 20 points for a fifth place finish in the poll. The Broncos will be expecting contributions from Elizabeth Doran, who enters as the team's leading scorer, and Sara Majors, who enters as the team's assists leader. Pepperdine, which finished sixth in the voting with 19 points, returns Miranda Ayim who led the WCC in field goal percentage en route to an all-WCC first team selection.

Portland, seventh in the voting with 16 points, returns Laiken Dollente, who led the Pilots in scoring and was second in the nation in free throw percentage. San Francisco rounds out the voting with 14 points and welcomes back Shay Rollins, whois the Dons' top returning scorer, and Necolia Simmons, who enters as the leading rebounder.

2008-09 WCC Women's Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Gonzaga - 49 (7)
2. Loyola Marymount - 40 (1)
3. San Diego - 37
4. Saint Mary's - 29
5. Santa Clara - 20
6. Pepperdine - 19
7. Portland - 16
8. San Francisco - 14
(First place votes)

2008-09 WCC Women's Basketball Preseason All-Conference Team
Miranda Ayim, PEP
Heather Bowman, GON
Laiken Dollente, POR
Maija Lahde, SMC
Necolia Simmons, USF
Jontelle Smith, SMC
Amber Sprague, USD
Louella Tomlinson, SMC
Courtney Vandersloot, GON
Renahy Young, LMU