Big Sky Conference

In-state rivals tie for first in preseason coaches’ poll; Vandals sit atop media poll

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FARMINGTON, Utah (November 11, 2020) – In-state rivals Idaho and Idaho State were picked as conference favorites by the league’s coaches in the Big Sky women’s basketball preseason coaches’ poll.  In the media poll, Idaho was selected as the favorite to win the conference title this season.  Coaches were not allowed to vote for their team.

Idaho and Idaho State both received 91 points in the coaches’ poll.

The Vandals received four first-place votes in the coaches poll and pulled in 16 first-place votes and 221 points in the media poll.

“I think these polls are always a reflection of how last year went and who you lost. We lost a couple of really great seniors, but I think we also have gained some great new players as well”, said Idaho head coach Jon Newlee. “Whether you are picked one or picked 10, you still have to go out and prove it on the floor. So, you know that’s great, and it’s nice, but honestly, it’s where you finish in March, in Boise.  That will tell you whether you had a successful season or not.”

Idaho head coach Jon Newlee celebrates the Big Sky Conference Championship in 2016/by Brooks Nuanez

Idaho is coming off last season that saw them advance to the Big Sky Tournament Championship game and a second-place finish in regular-season conference play with a 15-5 record.  The Vandals finished the season with a 22-9 record overall. Idaho returns the preseason Big Sky All-Conference scoring duo of Gina Marxen and Beyonce Bea.  Marxen and Bea both finished the season ranked in the top 10 in scoring among conference players. Marxen averaged 13.3 points per game, and Bea had 12.6 points a game last season for the Vandals.

Idaho State also came in first in the coaches’ poll with 91 points and had two first-place votes.

“The recognition of being picked first in any poll is nice,” Bengals head coach Seton Sobolewski said. “It’s a reflection of the work we’ve put in, but there is still a lot of work to do to earn the top spot. I feel there is going to be more parity this year, and Big Sky play is going to be tough, especially under the circumstances.”

In 2019-20, the Bengals finished the year with a 13-7 conference record and a third-place regular-season finish.  Idaho State made it to the Big Sky Tournament semifinals last season behind returning senior and preseason all-conference honoree Dora Goles.  Goles average 12.7 points. 3.1 assists and 2.1 steals per game as a junior.  The Bengals also return Estefania Ors for her senior year and Callie Bourne, who will be playing her second season in a Bengals uniform.

In the media poll, the Bengals were picked to finish the season second behind the Vandals with 206 points.

Northern Arizona received three first-place votes in the coaches’ poll and received 80 points.  The Lumberjacks also had 180 points in the media poll to finish third in both.

The Lumberjacks enter the year building on their momentum from the last two seasons.  A year ago, NAU made a run at the championship game after finishing tied for fourth place with a 12-8 record.  NAU is led by Khiarica Rasheed, who enters her senior campaign as the league’s preseason MVP.  Last year Rasheed averaged 16.5 points a game and is the highest returning scorer from last season. 

Montana State freshman Darian White finishes at the rim against Northern Arizona at the Big Sky Tournament last eyar/ by Brooks Nuanez

Montana State, the 2019-20 regular-season champions, was picked to finish the conference season in fourth place by both coaches and media members.  The Bobcats had one first-place vote and 77 points in the coaches’ poll and received two first-place votes and 173 points in the media polls.

Northern Colorado received one first-place vote in both the coaches and media polls.  The Bears received 64 points from Big Sky Coaches and 135 points from the affiliated media members and are picked to finish fifth in the conference.

In the coaches’ poll, Montana received 53 points to finish sixth, and Portland State was picked fifth with 50 points.

Southern Utah (36), Sacramento State (26), Eastern Washington (23), and Weber State (14) round out the remainder of the coaches’ poll.

For the media poll, Portland State received a sixth-place projection with 127 points, and Montana was picked to finish seventh with 122 points.

Southern Utah (73), Eastern Washington (65), Sacramento State (54), and Weber State (29) rounded out the media poll.

The 2020-21 season will get underway on November 25 and will feature a 20-game conference schedule that will begin on December 3 and will finish with the Big Sky Basketball Tournament on March 8-13 at Idaho Central Arena in Boise, Idaho.

Big Sky Basketball Digital Media Day will also occur this week, with the event getting underway at 10 a.m. MT on November 12 and can be seen on Pluto TV Ch. 752.

2020 Big Sky Women’s Basketball Preseason Polls
Coaches’ Poll Media Poll
TeamsPoints TeamsPoints
Idaho(4)91 Idaho(16)221
Idaho State(2)91 Idaho State(2)206
Northern Arizona(3)80 Northern Arizona 180
Montana State(1)77 Montana State(2)173
Northern Colorado(1)64 Northern Colorado(1)135
Montana 53 Portland State 127
Portland State 50 Montana 122
Southern Utah 36 Southern Utah 73
Sacramento State 26 Eastern Washington 65
Eastern Washington 23 Sacramento State 54
Weber State 14 Weber State 29

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