The women's basketball team will open the 2012-13 season this weekend as the Pirates play a pair of American Southwest Conference teams in the Southwestern University Tip-Off Tournament in Georgetown, Texas.
The Pirates will take on Texas Lutheran at 4:00 pm on Friday, November 16th and Mary Hardin-Baylor at 3:00 pm on Saturday, November 17th.
Both games will be played at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.
Live stats will be available for both games.
A live video feed will be available for the games; however, there is a slight fee for the video feed.
The Pirates: After finishing last season with an overall record of 11-14, and a 7-9 record in NWC play, Whitworth looks to be more productive on the court in 2012-13. Last season, the Pirates lost seven games by eight points or less, including an overtime loss.
Whitworth returns four of the five starters from the 2011-12 season, including two players who finished the season averaging double-figures for the Bucs. Additionally, Whitworth added seven true freshmen to the roster.
Top scorers junior guard Kayla Johnson and senior guard Emily Guthrie return for the Pirates. Johnson averaged 11.6 points per game while Guthrie averaged 11.4 points per game, which ranked them second and third on the team in scoring last year.
Two additional starters return for the Bucs, senior guard Lauren Picha and junior forward Jamie Lyons. Picha averaged 9.7 points per game and 2.1 assists per game, while Lyons averaged 5.7 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game for the Pirates.
Sophomore guard Kendra Knutsen, who averaged 2.0 assists per game, and junior forward Kendra Lahue, who averaged 5.6 points per game and 2.7 rebounds per game, also return for Whitworth.
The Bulldogs: Whitworth will face Texas Lutheran in the season opener on Friday. It will be the first meeting between the two schools.
The Bulldogs were picked to finish fifth in the American Southwest Conference West Division preseason poll. Texas Lutheran finished last season with an overall record of 7-18. The Bulldogs' 6-15 conference record put them in fifth place in the league in 2011-12.
TLU returns 10 players from last season's campaign, including three starters. Leading the returners is senior Katy Scott, who was last season's leading scorer with 11.9 points per game and was second on the team in rebounding, with 5.3 rebounds per game. The Bulldogs also return starting point guard Ashley Robinson and starting wing Italy Taylor. Robinson averaged 4.6 assists per game last season, while Taylor averaged 5.4 points for the Bulldogs.
The Crusaders: Whitworth will take on Mary Hardin-Baylor in Texas on Saturday. It will also be the first meeting between the two schools.
The Crusaders were selected fourth in the American Southwest Conference West Division preseason poll. Mary Hardin-Baylor finished last season with a 6-19 overall record, while its 5-16 ASC record led them to tie for sixth in the conference. The 2011-12 season was the first time in six seasons that UHMB missed the ASC Championship Tournament. The Crusaders won the West Division in the 2009-2010 season.
UMHB returns nine players, including two starters from last year, and adds 11 new faces to the roster. The last year's leading scorer graduated, the Crusaders return the leading rebounder, Jovana Miles, who averaged 6.4 rebounds per game.
Fun Fact: While Whitworth returns a veteran head coach, both Texas Lutheran and Mary Hardin-Baylor have new leadership this season. The Bulldogs will be under the direction of interim head coach Mel Dixon, who has served as an assistant coach on the TLU coaching staff since the 2010-11 season. For the Crusaders, Lisa Curliss-Taylor took over the women's program in April 2012, and will begin her first season as head coach of UMHB this fall.
Preseason Poll: The 2012-13 Northwest Conference women's basketball coaches preseason poll was released by the league office on Thursday.
George Fox was selected to repeat as conference champions this season, after going all the way to the national championship game last season. The Bruins received five first-place votes. Lewis & Clark was voted second by the coaches and the Pioneers received four first-place votes.
The third, fourth and fifth place selections were close, with just eight points separating the three teams. Puget Sound was voted third in the preseason poll, while Whitman was voted fourth. Whitworth was selected fifth, despite losing First Team All-NWC and the leading scorer from last season, Lexi Belcher.
Pacific (Ore.), Linfield, Pacific Lutheran and Willamette rounded out the sixth through ninth spots in the preseason poll.
The Coach: Now in her 19th season at Whitworth University, Helen Higgs is the winningest and longest serving women's basketball coach in school history. Not only does she have a record of 263-192 heading into the 2012-13 season, the most wins in school history, her winning percentage of .578 is also the best all-time among Pirate women's basketball coaches. Since becoming members of the NCAA in 1999, Higgs put together the best stretch of records in school history. Whitworth went 124-53 (.700) in the seven seasons from 1999-2005.
Next Up: Whitworth will travel to California to play a trio of games, beginning with Occidental on November 23 at 1:00 pm.