Hawai’i Pacific women’s basketball selected as preseason favorite in Pacific West Conference

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Hawai‘i Pacific University received 10 of the 11 first-place votes in the PacWest women’s basketball preseason poll and is the conference’s favorite going into a season that will be like no other in conference history. Reigning PacWest Player of the Year Amy Baum of HPU has been named the Preseason Player of the Year leading a group of seven players on the All-PacWest team.

Hawai‘i Pacific, who has won the PacWest Conference Tournament the last three seasons, enters the conference season with a 26-game winning streak after finishing last season with a win over Azusa Pacific in the PacWest Championship game and then starting this season with an 82-74 win over NCAA Division I opponent University of Hawai‘i. The Sharks need 11 wins this year to become the first PacWest team to reach 200 conference wins since the league was reformed in 2006.

The Sharks return three players that were named to the Preseason All-PacWest team with Ally Bates and Alysha Marcucci joining Baum. The PacWest’s reigning Player of the Year had seven double-doubles last year, including a triple-double against Dominican as she averaged 12.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and a conference-best 6.0 assists per game. A three-time All-PacWest honoree, Marcucci scored a season-high 24 points three times last year and averaged 31 minutes per game as she helped her team go undefeated in conference play. Bates was an All-PacWest honorable mention last year and ranked in the top-10 for assists in the conference.

Azusa Pacific, which won the PacWest regular season title in the 2018-19 season and advanced to the Elite Eight, is picked second in the preseason poll and collected the other first-place vote. Laura Pranger was named to the All-PacWest preseason team for the Cougars. Pranger’s name is all over the PacWest record book as one of the best shot-blockers in league history. Last year, she recorded a triple-double of 16 points, 11 rebounds and 11 blocks.

Concordia narrowly edged Point Loma for the No. 3 slot on the preseason poll. The Eagles return former PacWest Freshman of the Year Michaela VanderKlugt who was named to the Preseason All-PacWest team ahead of her senior season. The three-time All-PacWest honoree ranks 17th in PacWest history for career points with 1,360 and ninth in rebounds with 763.

Point Loma finished last year in a tie for fourth place earning a spot in the PacWest Tournament for the sixth year in a row. Cara Liggins, who was on the All-PacWest first team in 2019, has been named to the Preseason All-PacWest team going into her senior year with the Sea Lions. In her career, she has averaged 13.8 points per game, which is the 17th best average in PacWest history. Last year, she averaged 15.3 points per game and ranked in the top-10 in the PacWest in rebounding and blocks.

After qualifying for the PacWest Championships last year, Fresno Pacific has been picked fifth in the preseason poll. Jessica Malazarte has established herself as an elite perimeter shooter in the league and was recognized on the preseason All-PacWest team. She is just 18 3-pointers away from becoming only the 12th player in PacWest history to eclipse 200 career triples. She also ranks among the conference’s all-time leaders in points and assists as she enters her senior season.

Biola finished tied for fourth in the conference standings last year and is picked sixth in the preseason poll. Dominican was picked seventh in the preseason poll followed by Academy of Art and Hawai‘i Hilo, while Chaminade and Holy Names rounded out the poll.

The 2020-21 PacWest women’s basketball season will have a unique schedule in order to provide a safe and competitive opportunity for student-athletes as the conference will be divided into three pods. The Hawai‘i Pod will have Chaminade, UH Hilo and HPU. The Southern California Pod will have Azusa Pacific, Biola, Concordia and Point Loma. The Northern California Pod will have Academy of Art, Dominican, Fresno Pacific and Holy Names. Each team is scheduled to play 12 games within their pod and the team with the best record within each pod will be named pod champions.

HPU (1-0) opened the season with the win over UH in December and will return to action on Saturday afternoon on the Big Island when the Sharks visit UH Hilo. Tipoff at the UH Hilo Gymnasium is at 1:30 p.m. The teams meet again on Sunday afternoon at noon.

2020-21 PACWEST PRESEASON WOMEN’S BASKETBALL POLL

1.Hawai‘i Pacific (10)11622-0
2.Azusa Pacific (1)10918-4
3.Concordia Irvine9015-7
4.Point Loma8814-8
5.Fresno Pacific7713-9
6.Biola7514-8
7.Dominican547-15
8.Academy of Art488-14
9.Hawai‘i Hilo339-13
10.Chaminade224-18
11.Holy Names141-21

Preseason All-PacWest Team
Amy Baum, Hawai`i Pacific (Player of the Year)
Cara Liggins, Point Loma
Laura Pranger, Azusa Pacific
Michaela VanderKlugt, Concordia
Jessica Malazarte, Fresno Pacific
Ally Bates, Hawai`i Pacific
Alysha Marcucci, Hawai`i Pacific

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