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Women's Basketball

Big West Women's Basketball Preview

9/10/2015

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CAL POLY

- Cal Poly boasts an intriguing mix of veterans and youngsters as the roster has seven upperclassmen to go along with 10 underclassmen. The Mustangs are looking for their eighth straight top three finish in the Big West, its best run as a member of the conference.

- Cal Poly’s top returnees include junior forward Hannah Gilbert (9.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and sophomore guard Dynn Leaupepe (7.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg), two players who graced the starting lineup in 29 and 20 games, respectively.

- The squad is looking for production from a key transfer in Amanda Lovely. The junior forward averaged 6.0 points and 4.9 rebounds in 30 games in her sophomore campaign at Pepperdine in 2013-14.

CAL STATE FULLERTON

- Cal State Fullerton faces significant turnover on its roster for 2015-16, as it returns five players from a club that reached the Big West Tournament semifinals. The Titans welcome five freshmen and one transfer to go along with the returnees, giving them just one senior and two juniors on the team.

- With the graduation of Chante Miles, Kathleen Iwuoha and Tailer Butler, CSF loses 66% of its scoring from a year ago. The leading returning scorer is junior Samantha Logan who scored 5.4 points per game and connected on 33.8% (52-154) of her threes a year ago.

- Third-year head coach Daron Park will take his team to familiar ground this season as the club heads to Big Sky Country to take on Montana and Montana State in early December. Park is a native of Great Falls, Mont., and is an alum of Montana State.

CSUN

- Two-time defending Big West Tournament champion CSUN returns to the court in 2015-16 in transition. The club graduated its most successful senior class, a group that won 74 games, two Big West Tournament titles and a Big West regular season crown.

- The Matadors are one of the youngest teams in the country, returning just six letterwinners and welcoming nine newcomers. CSUN has 26 combined career starts on its roster, the sixth-fewest figure in the NCAA.

- CSUN allowed just 59.0 points per game last season, the best figure in the Big West and the lone club that allowed less than 60 points a game. The Matadors will be tough to score on again this season as the roster features eight players who stand 5-10 or taller.

LONG BEACH STATE

- Long Beach State is one of the most experienced clubs in the Big West, boasting a roster that has played in 402 combined games at the Division I level. Seven letterwinners and two starters return from a team that won 20 games for the first time since 1999-00.

- Junior Raven Benton is the top returnee for the 49ers after she averaged 11.5 points and 5.0 rebounds a year ago. Benton, who had her season cut short due to injury, started 13 of the 24 games she appeared in last season and was named second team All-Big West.

- A key newcomer is redshirt sophomore Gigi Hascheff, a transfer from Sacramento State who sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. In her true freshman season with the Hornets, Hascheff averaged 11.5 points and hit 53 three-pointers.

UC DAVIS

- An experienced Aggie team enters 2015-16 after finishing last season in the Big West Tournament semifinals. 12 letterwinners and two starters are back in the fold, joined by two highly touted freshmen.

- Senior center Alyson Doherty is the top returnee for UC Davis, coming off a season in which she averaged 13.4 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 50.5% from the floor. Doherty was named second team All-Big West after her outstanding season.

- UCD’s two true freshmen may have fans seeing double as identical twins Kourtney and Karley Eaton will suit up this season. Kourtney averaged 19.7 points, 7.0 assists and 6.3 rebounds during her senior year at Mark Morris High School in Washington, earning state player of the year honors for the second straight season. Karley averaged 16.1 points, 5.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds as a senior, earning second team All-State honors.

UC IRVINE

- UCI enters 2015-16 with 10 returnees and three starters back from a squad that finished strong after a rough start.

- The Anteaters will again rely heavily on redshirt junior forward Mokun Fajemisin. After having most of 2013-14 wiped out due to injury, Fajemisin bounced back with a solid 20-14-15 campaign. She averaged 12.2. points, 7.6 rebounds, posted seven double-doubles and led conference play with 2.1 blocks per game. Fajemisin was also named second team All-Big West, the only ‘Eater honored on the league’s postseason lists.

- UCI faces a tough schedule this season, facing off against seven foes that made postseason appearances and six clubs that won 20 or more games in 2014-15.

UC RIVERSIDE

- UC Riverside ended a three-year Big West Tournament drought last season, a 17-win campaign that was aided by an 11-3 mark at the SRC Arena.

- The Highlanders return arguably the league’s top all-around player in Brittany Crain. A year ago the senior ranked tops in the league in scoring (21.7), 11th in rebounds (6.1), second in free throws made (130), third in three-pointers made (75), second in steals per game (2.0) and tops in minutes per game (38.4). Crain was named Big West Player of the Year and first team All-Big West after her outstanding season.

- UCR kicked it up a notch offensively a year ago, leading the Big West in points per game at 70.2. The Highlanders were the only team to average 70 points and the only club to put up 100 points in 2014-15.

UC SANTA BARBARA

- UC Santa Barbara welcomes a new era on the sidelines as Bonnie Henrickson begins her first season on the sidelines. Henrickson has 18 seasons worth of head coaching experience, most recently an 11-year stint at Kansas, and 344 career wins.

- Junior Onome Jemerigbe is the Gauchos’ top returner, averaging 8.6 points, 4.0 assists and 1.6 steals during her sophomore campaign. Jemerigbe, an honorable mention All-Big West honoree, was the lone UCSB player to start all 29 games last year.

- The Gauchos received an infusion of talent in the offseason as seven players now call the Thunderdome home. Among the newcomers are four freshmen and one transfer. The other two players are transfers that will redshirt the season due to NCAA transfer rules.

HAWAI’I

- Hawai’i enters 2015-16 as the defending Big West regular season champion. The ‘Bows woon 23 games a year ago, the most wins by the squad since the 1997-98 team won the same amount of contests.  Eleven letterwinners and three starters return to lead Hawai’i in its championship defense.

- UH received some good news in the offseason as Ashleigh Karaitiana was granted an extra year of eligibility. The senior was a key starter last year, averaging 10.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and hitting 45 three-pointers on her way to second team All-Big West accolades.

- The ‘Bows will again face some of the stiffest competition in the country during its non-conference slate. Arizona State, South Carolina, Brigham Young and Texas A&M headline a difficult slate of foes invading the Stan Sheriff Center.

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