Oct. 22, 2007

FRISCO, Texas - The defending Southland Conference champion UT-Arlington women's basketball team is picked to finish in the middle of the Southland Conference West Division, the league office announced Monday. Coaches predict a fourth-place finish for the Mavericks, who were perfect in 16 conference games last year. Sports information directors say the Mavericks will finish third.

All but three teams in the coaches poll received first-place votes while the sports information directors followed suit with eight teams garnering first-place predictions. However, that is the only thing the coaches and SIDs would have in common. In both polls, the coaches and SIDs differ over who will win the East and West Divisions giving rise to what should be a competitive year in Southland Conference women's basketball.

Coming off their first undefeated conference record (16-0) and second trip to the NCAA Tournament in three years, new head coach Samantha Morrow and the Mavs garnered just two first-place votes combined. Leading the Mavs defense of its regular-season and conference tournament titles is senior guard Maryann Abanobi. UTA's top returning scorer (10.8) and an automatic preseason first-team selection, Abanobi started all 33 of UTA's games last year and is one of 12 league players to accumulate more than 1,000 minutes played.

In their 20th consecutive appearance in the Southland Conference Tournament, the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks' bid for its 16th NCAA Tournament appearance was dashed by league rival UT Arlington. However, SFA did represent the SLC in the Women's NIT, marking the Ladyjacks first trip in 20 years (1987) and the league's first representative since 1999. Picked by the SIDs to claim the SLC West Division and coming in second in the coaches poll, the Ladyjacks' run to the summit of the Southland Conference will be led by senior guard Nikki Carr. An automatic preseason first-team selection who started 32 of 33 games a year ago, Carr returns as the team's top scorer (10.6) and is one of 12 league players to accumulate over 1,000 minutes played.



A one-point overtime loss to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the Southland Conference Tournament a year ago will not deter coach Suzanne Fox and the Texas State Bobcats from another run at the league crown.

Tied for first in the SID poll and third in the coaches poll, the Bobcats join UT Arlington and Stephen F. Austin as the only teams to win over 10 games in league play last season. Senior guard/forward Joyce Ekworomadu leads the Bobcats into their 2007-08 campaign. An automatic preseason first-team selection, Ekworomadu started all 30 games for the Bobcats leading the team in scoring (13.9) and finished fourth in the SLC in three-point field goal percentage (.360).

After a conference tournament win over SLC East Division winner Southeastern Louisiana and a semifinal appearance, the UTSA Roadrunners grab the top spot in the SLC West Division coaches poll and slide to fourth in the SID's poll. Coach Rae Rippetoe-Blair enters her eighth season having claimed the most victories by a women's basketball coach at UTSA (113) and plans to add to her total. An automatic preseason first-team selection and All-SLC second-team in 2006-07, junior guard Monica Gibbs leads the Roadrunners into 2007-08. Gibbs led the SLC with 13 double-double performances and minutes played per game (36.62). She is one of 12 league players to record over 1,000 minutes on the hardwood last season. Additionally, Gibbs led the Roadrunners in scoring (12.9), rebounding (8.1), assists (4.79), steals (1.86) and blocks (0.59). All of which ranked 12th or higher in SLC play.

Looking to make its third consecutive appearance in the Southland Conference Tournament, Lamar University landed 13 first-place votes in the coaches and SID poll's, the most by any league school. First in the coaches poll and second in the SID's poll, Lamar received more acclamation to claim a conference crown than any other Southland program.

After a first round exit from last year's tournament dealt by league rival Stephen F. Austin, the Lady Cardinals return with no seniors and new head coach Larry Tidwell. The Freshman of the Year in 2006-07, Brittney Williams, leads the youngest team in the league into the 2007-08 season. The only freshman to receive all-conference honors last season, Williams finished sixth in scoring (14.4), eighth in rebounding (7.9) and was one of four players with a 30-plus point performance last season.

The 2007-08 Southland Conference preseason women's basketball teams are comprised of 10 players from seven member institutions. Returning players who were named All-SLC following the 2006-07 season were automatically placed on the 2007-08 preseason teams. Open positions were filled by vote of the league's head coaches.

2007-08 Preseason All-Southland Women's Basketball Teams

First Team

Name University Pos. Ht. Cl. Hometown/Previous School

Joyce Ekworomadu* Texas State G/F 5'9 Sr. Coppell, Texas/Coppell HS

Monica Gibbs* UTSA G 5'8 Jr. Stillwater, Okla./Stillwater HS

Brittney Williams* Lamar F 5'10 So. Spring, Texas/Spring HS

Maryann Abanobi * UT Arlington G 5'8 Sr. Sugar Land, Texas/Kempner HS

Nikki Carr* Stephen F. Austin G 5'6 Sr. Hawkins, Texas/Hawkins HS

Second Team

Name University Pos. Ht. Cl. Hometown/Previous School

Tiffeny Riles UT Arlington C 6'2 Sr. Lewisville, Texas/Lewisville HS

Elisa Beagle A&M-Corpus Christi C 6'0 Jr. Houston, Texas/Hightower HS

Ashli Barnum Northwestern State C 6'2 Sr. Irving, Texas/Redlands CC

Tena Matthews Northwestern State G 5'8 Sr. Lake Charles, La./Wash.-Marion HS

Whitney Cormier Stephen F. Austin G 5'9 So. Fort Worth, Texas/Fossil Ridge HS

(*Automatic Selection)

2007-08 Southland Preseason Women's Basketball Polls


(First Place Votes)


1. Lamar (7) 58

2. Southeastern Louisiana (3) 56

3. Northwestern State (1) 43

4. Central Arkansas (1) 38

5. McNeese State 26

6. Nicholls State 25


1. UTSA (5) 52

2. Stephen F. Austin (3) 49

3. Texas State (2) 46

4. UT Arlington (1) 44

5. A&M-Corpus Christi (1) 39

6. Sam Houston State 16


1. Southeastern Louisiana (4) 57

2. Lamar (6) 54

3. Northwestern State (2) 47

4. Central Arkansas 37

5. Nicholls State 28

6. McNeese State 26


1. Stephen F. Austin (3) 50

1. Texas State (3) 50

3. UT Arlington (1) 47

4. UTSA (3) 42

5. A&M-Corpus Christi (2) 41

6. Sam Houston State 16


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