Zags Picked To Win 13th WCC Crown, Tinkle And Barta Preseason All-WCC

Bulldogs picked as preseason favorite for the ninth time


Oct. 31, 2016


LOS ANGELES - For the fourth-straight season, the Gonzaga women's basketball team was picked as the West Coast Conference preseason favorite. Elle Tinkle and Jill Barta were named to the preseason All-WCC team.

The poll and team were both announced at the sixth annual #WCChoops Tip-Off event Monday.

The Zags, which have won 11 of the last 12 regular-season WCC titles, received five of the 10 possible first-place votes for 76 points in the poll. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team. BYU was picked second and received four first-place votes and 75 points. It marked the fifth time GU and the Cougars were the top two teams in the poll since BYU joined the conference in 2011.

The one-point separation is also the second closest margin between first and second in the poll over the last 11 years. BYU had a 61-60 edge over the Bulldogs in the 2012-13 poll, before Gonzaga won the conference regular-season title for the ninth-straight season, and Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount tied at the top with 57 points each in 2006. The Zags have now been picked as the WCC preseason favorite in nine of the last 13 years.

Saint Mary's (66), San Diego (58) and Santa Clara (44) rounded out the top half of this year's preseason poll, with Saint Mary’s picking up the final first place vote.

In the preseason All-Conference selections, Tinkle received the recognition for the second-straight season, as she only played 10 games last year before suffering a season-ending injury. She was named to the All-WCC First Team in 2015 after averaging 14.9 points per game during conference play, which was ninth in the WCC. In conference action, the senior was second in the league, shooting 50.6 percent from the field, and 43.8 percent from behind-the-arc, which was fourth in the WCC. Also in conference play, she was fifth in steals (2.1), seventh in blocks (1.0), ninth in three-pointers made per game (1.9), and 16th in rebounds (5.9). In her 10 games last year she averaged 10.5 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per contest.

Barta, a 2016 First Team All-WCC and WCC All-Freshman team selection, received her first Preseason All-WCC nod. Last year, she averaged 14 points per game, good for seventh in the WCC. The 6’3” freshman also snagged 5.8 rebounds per game, which was 18th in the conference. Barta shot 83 percent from the free throw line, third in the WCC and 61st in the country. She really shined in WCC action, finishing third in points per game (16.3), first in free throw percentage (91 percent), and ninth in field goal percentage (44 percent). In the Gonzaga freshman ranks, only Tammy Tibbles (475) scored more points than Barta’s 463 and only Heather Bowman (209) had more rebounds than Barta’s 190. She was the first freshman to lead the team in scoring in school history.

After her first season, where Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier led the Zags to the NCAA Sweet 16 for only the fourth time in school history and won the Maggie Dixon Division I Rookie Coach of the Year award, the team was decimated by injuries in 2015-16, but still advanced to the second round of the WNIT. Despite the injuries, the team battled to four one-point losses last year, after the program only recorded 27 total one-point games in the history of GU women’s basketball.

Gonzaga has amassed a conference record of 162-22 (.880) during the last 12 years, which include 11 West Coast Conference regular-season titles and six WCC Tournament championships.

Gonzaga begins its season with an exhibition game against Corban on Nov. 4 at 6 pm, followed by the regular-season opener on Nov. 12, versus Nicholls State at 2 pm, both games at McCarthey Athletic Center.

2016-17 WEST COAST CONFERENCE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL

Team (First Place Votes)

1. Gonzaga (5) - 76
2. BYU (4) - 75
3. Saint Mary’s (1) - 66
4. San Diego - 58
5. Santa Clara - 44
6. Loyola Marymount - 36
7. San Francisco - 35
8. Pacific - 34
T9. Pepperdine - 13
T9. Portland - 13...

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