BYU basketball: women picked to finish first in WCC

By Norma Collett

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Nov. 2 2012 8:42 a.m. MDT

Brigham Young University has been selected to win the West Coast Conference women's basketball championship in a preseason poll of the WCC's nine head coaches.

The Cougars received five out of a possible eight first-place votes (coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team), just one more first-place vote than second-place Gonzaga. This is the first time in five years that a team other than Gonzaga has been selected by the coaches to win the WCC (San Diego, 2007-08).

BYU finished the 2011-12 campaign with a 26-7, 12-4 record that included a second place finish in the WCC regular season and a WCC Championship crown by defeating Gonzaga in Las Vegas. BYU received an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament playing a first round game at DePaul.

Gonzaga, the 2011-12 regular season champion, finished one point behind BYU in the coaches' poll. The Bulldogs are one of three teams represented by multiple players on the preseason All-WCC team.

In all, student-athletes from six different schools are on the Preseason All-West Coast Conference team. BYU's Haley Steed was a 2012 All-WCC selection and Lexi Eaton was the 2012 Co-Newcomer of the Year. Junior center Jennifer Hamson was the third Cougar player to be named to the Preseason All-WCC team. She made last year's WCC All-Tournament team.

Representing Gonzaga on the Preseason All-WCC squad are junior guard Haiden Palmer and senior guard Taelor Karr. Karr was second in the conference with 4.5 assists per game last season and Palmer was the 2012 Co-Newcomer of the Year.

Saint Mary's, the third team with multiple players on the preseason All-WCC team, returns junior forward Danielle Mauldin and junior guard Jackie Nared. Nared was fifth in the league with 7.5 rebounds per game last year.

For the first time since 2002, the West Coast Conference had two teams compete in the 2012 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament, as BYU and Gonzaga competed in the field of 64. Gonzaga advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third straight season. 2012 also marked the first time that four WCC teams participated in the postseason. Saint Mary's and San Diego were selected to play in the Women's National Invitation Tournament. The Toreros made a historic run to the WNIT Final Four.

Norma Collett is the athletic communications director for the BYU women's basketball team. She can be reached at 801-422-4908 or at norma_collett@byu.edu

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