BOZEMAN, Mont. – The Montana State women’s basketball team was picked to finish first in both the Big Sky Conference Preseason Coaches and Media polls, announced by the league office on Thursday morning.
The Bobcats secured five first-place votes (89 points) in the coaches’ poll and seven first-place votes (155 points) in the media poll. The Bobcats went 16-15 overall and 11-9 in conference play last season, making it to the Big Sky Tournament quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion Portland State.
MSU welcomes back five seniors, including preseason Big Sky MVP pick Fallyn Freije, and preseason all-conference selection, Oliana Squires. Rounding out its senior class are Blaire Braxton and Madeline Smith, who have split time as starters the past three seasons, and Martha Kuderer, who started in 27 games last season after sitting out the 2017-18 campaign after transferring from Seton Hall.
“We aren’t surprised by the preseason polls with the experience we have returning, but we also know what matters is where we finish in March, said MSU head coach Tricia Binford, who is entering her 15th season at the helm of the Bobcats. “We have a lot of work to do between now and tournament time in Boise in a very competitive conference. These expectations are no different than what we have for ourselves and we’re excited to get the season started.”
Idaho was picked to finish second in both polls. The Vandals received three first-place votes (88 points) in the coaches’ poll and one first-place vote (148) in the media poll. The Vandals are reloaded for the 2019-20 season after losing their top two scorers in Mikayla Ferenz and Taylor Pierce.
Last season’s tournament winner Portland State was picked third in the preseason polls. The Vikings received three first-place votes (147 points) in the media and two first-place votes (73 points) in the coaches’ poll. Portland State returns last year’s top reserve, Desirae Hansen (7.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg) along with Kylie Jimenez (11.5 ppg, 4.7 apg), a two-time All-Big Sky selection and the 2017-18 freshman of the year.
Coming in fourth in both polls is Idaho State who received three first-place votes (140 points) in the media poll and 70 points in the coaches’ poll. The Bengals lost two key players from the 2018-19 squad but return Estefania Ors (12.8 ppg) who was an All-Big Sky selection last year.
Three other teams also received votes in the media poll. Northern Colorado received three first-place votes (131 points) to come in fifth. Eastern Washington received one first-place vote (126 points) to finish sixth in the poll. Montana was the final team to garner first-place votes and received two of them (116 points), finishing seventh in the poll.
The final four teams in the media poll were as follows with Northern Arizona in eighth (83 points), Sacramento State in ninth (62 votes), Southern Utah in 10th (52 points), and Weber State in 11th (28 points).
In the coaches’ poll, Montana finished with one first-place vote and in fifth (63 points), Northern Colorado in sixth (57 points), Eastern Washington in seventh (52 points), Northern Arizona in eighth (48 points), Southern Utah in ninth (32 points), Sacramento State in 10th (19 points), and Weber State in 11th (14 points).
2019-20 Big Sky Women’s Basketball Preseason Media Poll
|1.||Montana State (7)||155|
|3.||Portland State (3)||147|
|4.||Idaho State (3)||140|
|5.||Northern Colorado (4)||131|
|6.||Eastern Washington (1)||126|
() Denotes first-place votes
2019-20 Big Sky Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
|1.||Montana State (5)||89|
|3.||Portland State (2)||73|