Idaho women picked to win Big Sky Conference; Montana State ranked 4th

Montana State vs. Northern Colorado - Big Sky Conference women's basketball quarterfinal at Century Link Arena in Boise
Posted at 11:10 AM, Nov 11, 2020

(Editor's note: Big Sky Conference media release)

FARMINGTON, Utah – Montana State is ranked fourth and Montana is sixth in the Big Sky Conference women's basketball preseason coaches poll, which was released Wednesday. The media poll was also released Wednesday, and MSU was fourth in that poll, as well. The Lady Griz were ranked seventh by the media.

In-state rivals Idaho and Idaho State were picked as conference favorites by the league's coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their team. In the media poll, Idaho was selected as the favorite to win the conference title this season.

Idaho and Idaho State both received 91 points in the coaches' poll.

The Vandals received four first-place votes in the coaches poll and pulled in 16 first-place votes and 221 points in the media poll.

"I think these polls are always a reflection of how last year went and who you lost. We lost a couple of really great seniors, but I think we also have gained some great new players as well", Idaho head coach Jon Newlee said in a Big Sky Conference media release. "Whether you are picked one or picked 10, you still have to go out and prove it on the floor. So, you know that's great, and it's nice, but honestly, it's where you finish in March, in Boise. That will tell you whether you had a successful season or not."

Idaho is coming off last season that saw them advance to the Big Sky Tournament Championship game and a second-place finish in regular-season conference play with a 15-5 record. The Vandals finished the season with a 22-9 record overall. Idaho returns the preseason Big Sky All-Conference scoring duo of Gina Marxen and Beyonce Bea. Marxen and Bea both finished the season ranked in the top 10 in scoring among conference players. Marxen averaged 13.3 points per game, and Bea had 12.6 points a game last season for the Vandals.

The Vandals also return Fairfield native Natalie Klinker, who started 27 games last season and averaged 6.5 points and a team-high 7.5 rebounds per game.

Northern Arizona, which is coached by Havre native Loree Payne, received three first-place votes in the coaches' poll and received 80 points. The Lumberjacks also had 180 points in the media poll to finish third in both.

The Lumberjacks enter the year building on their momentum from the last two seasons. A year ago, NAU made a run at the championship game after finishing tied for fourth place with a 12-8 record. NAU is led by Khiarica Rasheed, who enters her senior campaign as the league's preseason MVP. Last year Rasheed averaged 16.5 points a game and is the highest returning scorer from last season.

Montana State, the 2019-20 regular-season champions, was picked to finish the conference season in fourth place by both coaches and media members. The Bobcats had one first-place vote and 77 points in the coaches' poll and received two first-place votes and 173 points in the media polls.

Northern Colorado received one first-place vote in both the coaches and media polls. The Bears received 64 points from Big Sky Coaches and 135 points from the affiliated media members and are picked to finish fifth in the conference.

In the coaches' poll, Montana received 53 points to finish sixth, and Portland State was picked fifth with 50 points.

Southern Utah (36), Sacramento State (26), Eastern Washington (23), and Weber State (14) round out the remainder of the coaches' poll.

For the media poll, Portland State received a sixth-place projection with 127 points, and Montana was picked to finish seventh with 122 points.

Southern Utah (73), Eastern Washington (65), Sacramento State (54), and Weber State (29) rounded out the media poll.

The 2020-21 season will get underway on Nov. 25 and will feature a 20-game conference schedule that will begin on Dec. 3 and will finish with the Big Sky Basketball Tournament on March 8-13 at Idaho Central Arena in Boise, Idaho.

Big Sky Basketball Digital Media Day will also occur this week, with the event getting underway at 10 a.m. Thursday and can be seen on Pluto TV Ch. 752.

2020 Big Sky Women's Basketball Preseason Polls

Coaches' PollMedia Poll
Idaho State(2)91Idaho State(2)206
Northern Arizona(3)80Northern Arizona180
Montana State(1)77Montana State(2)173
Northern Colorado(1)64Northern Colorado(1)135
Montana53Portland State127
Portland State50Montana122
Southern Utah36Southern Utah73
Sacramento State26Eastern Washington65
Eastern Washington23Sacramento State54
Weber State14Weber State29