Published Oct. 25, 2012 on www.gannonsports.com
The Gannon women’s basketball team has been predicted to finish second in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Western Division, according to the 2012 PSAC Preseason Coaches Poll released Thursday afternoon. In addition, Jen Papich (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Plum Senior) and Kelley Sundberg (Mansfield, Conn. / E.O. Smith) were named to the Preseason All-PSAC Western Division team.
The preseason rankings were announced in conjunction with the PSAC Basketball Local Media Day which featured men’s and women’s players and coaches from Gannon, Mercyhurst and Edinboro. The event was held at Edinboro’s Pogue Center.
For the second straight season, Edinboro was picked as the league’s preseason favorite. After being a unanimous pick last season, the Fighting Scots garnered six of eight first-place votes this year. Gannon was second in the poll, picking up one first-place nod. Indiana (Pa.) was third followed by California (Pa.), who earned the final top vote.
Rounding out the eight-team Western Division field was Clarion at fifth, followed by Mercyhurst, Lock Haven and Slippery Rock.
In the Eastern Division, Bloomsburg was once again the top pick, earning seven first-place votes. West Chester was second with one first-place nod ahead of Millersville and Shippensburg. East Stroudsburg was fifth while Kutztown, Mansfield and Cheyney rounded out the poll.
Gannon tied with Edinboro for the most student-athletes on the Western Division preseason team. Papich and Sundberg were joined by Samantha Blazetik (Edinboro), Kiara Brown (Edinboro) Hannah Heeter (Clarion) and Sarah Pastorek (IUP).
Sundberg was an All-PSAC second-team selection last season. One of only three Lady Knights to start all 29 games, Sundberg averaged 6.4 points, 5.5 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 steals. During her sophomore season, she ranked 11th among all NCAA Division II players in assists per game and 13th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.96). Among PSAC players, Sundberg’s numbers ranked her first in assists per game, third in assist-to-turnover ratio and 12th in steals per game.
Papich led the Lady Knights with 427 points last season, the 23rd highest single-season total in school history. As a sophomore, Papich averaged 14.7 points, 5.2 rebounds 2.7 steals and 2.6 assists which led to an All-PSAC first-team selection. Papich produced Gannon’s seventh-highest single-season total in school history in steals (77), ranking her 36th nationally. The two-time PSAC Player of the Week reached double digits in scoring 24 times, including a career-best 31-point performance against California (Pa.).
The Preseason All-PSAC Eastern Division team consisted of Alex Lennon (West Chester), Aurielle Mosley (Millersville), Mashira Newman (Millersville), Kayla Oxenrider (Bloomsburg), Dana Wieller (Bloomsburg) and Ashley Wood (Kutztown).
Head coach Cleve Wright‘s squad recorded the 10th 20-win season in school history during the 2011-12 campaign, finishing 22-7 overall and 18-4 in conference play. The Lady Knights made their eighth NCAA Division II Tournament appearance, advancing to the second round after a 61-50 opening-round victory against Johnson C. Smith. The season eventually came to an end during the second round with a 64-59 loss to 2012 NCAA Division II National Champion Shaw.
Gannon will kick off the 2012-13 campaign with an unbelievable stretch of games at the Disney Tip-Off Classic in Anaheim, California November 9-11. The Lady Knights start the event November 9 against seventh-ranked UC San Diego, before battling top-ranked Ashland November 10. The Eagles are the 2012 NCAA Division II Runner-Up. The classic concludes November 11 against West Texas A&M.
For more about the Lady Knight, including a video interview with the coach and team, check out http://www.gannonsports.com.