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WCC Announces 2009-10 Women's Basketball Preseason Poll

Oct. 21, 2009

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Gonzaga was chosen as the favorite to claim the WCC women's basketball title for the second straight year in the 2009-10 preseason coaches poll. The Bulldogs, who received the maximum seven first place votes for a total of 49 points, won the WCC Tournament and earned their second-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament. As a 12th seed,Gonzaga upset No. 5 seeded Xavier in the first round, 74-59, before nearly accomplishing the same feat against No. 4 seeded Pittsburgh, losing 65-60. Loyola Marymount received the remaining first place vote and totaled 39 points to come in second in the voting.

Headlining the group of Gonzaga returners are 2009 WCC Player of the Year and WCC Tournament MVP, junior guard Courtney Vandersloot as well as 2008 Player of the Year, senior forward Heather Bowman among the four starters returning. Both Vandersloot and Bowman were named to this year's Wooden Award Watch List, making Gonzaga just one of four schools in the country (Connecticut, Ohio St., and Stanford) with two players on the list. Both players were also named to this year's preseaon all-conference team, along with teammate, senior forward Vivian Frieson. Bowman led the league in scoring last year, while Vandersloot was the leader in assists.

Loyola Marymount will be led by junior guard Renahy Young, who led the team in scoring at 14.7 ppg and three-point percentage at .328. Her 441 points last season ranks fifth on the Lions' all-time single season list. Young was named to the preseason all-conference team for the second straight year and was joined by teammate, sophomore guard Alex Cowling, who led the team in field goal percentage at .542 in just her freshman year.

Pepperdine, which finished third in this year's poll with 34 points, returns one starter from last year's team that finished third in the conference in senior center Miranda Ayim, who was also named to this year's preseason all-conference team. Ayim finished last season as the team's leader in both scoring (11.5 ppg) and rebounding (5.4 rpg). Portland collected 31 points to finish fourth in this year's poll. The Pilots will return preseason All-WCC member, senior guard Laiken Dollente, who was fifth in the league in scoring at 15.3 ppg. Portland returns three starters from a team that finished in second place last season, and advanced to the WNIT.

Saint Mary's is expected to finish fifth this season, with 29 points in this year's poll. The Gaels had two players named to the preseason all-conference team in junior center Louella Tomlinson and senior guard Jontelle Smith, who missed last season due to injury. Tomlinson ranked second in the country in blocks (161) last season, while Smith is the program's all-time leader in three-pointers made (190). Also looking to contribute will be sophomore forward Ashlee Smith, who led the league in field goal percentage (.569) in just her freshman year. San Diego, with 22 points, was picked sixth in this year's poll. The Toreros will be led by preseason All-WCC member, sophomore guard Dominique Conners, who was second amongst all freshmen in the league in scoring (10.2), and senior forward Morgan Henderson, who led the league in three-point percentage with a .449 clip.

San Francisco and Santa Clara round out this year's poll with 10 points each. The Dons return three starters, headlined by sophomore guard Rheina Ale, who returns as the team's leading scorer (10.1) in just her freshman year last season. The Broncos will be led by preseason all-conference team member, junior forward Lena Gipson, who just missed out on averaging a double-double for the season with averages of 13.6 ppg and 9.9 rpg.

Preseason Poll
1. Gonzaga 49 (7)
2. Loyola Marymount 39 (1)
3. Pepperdine 34
4. Portland 31
5. Saint Mary's 29
6. San Diego 22
7. San Francisco 10
Santa Clara 10
(First place votes)

Preseason All-Conference Team
Miranda Ayim, PEP SR F
Heather Bowman, GON SR F
Dominique Conners, USD SO G
Alex Cowling, LMU SO F
Laiken Dollente, POR SR G
Vivian Frieson, GON SR F
Lena Gipson, SCU JR F
Jontelle Smith, SMC SR G
Louella Tomlinson, SMC JR F
Courtney Vandersloot, GON JR G
Renahy Young, LMU JR G