DENVER, CO (KTSM) – The New Mexico State women’s basketball team is picked to win its sixth-straight Western Athletic Conference championship by both the media and the league’s coaches while Gia Pack was tabbed preseason WAC Player of the Year by the coaches, the conference announced Wednesday. The WAC’s nine head coached could not vote for their own teams or players.
The Aggies are looking to become the first team in WAC history to win six-straight regular-season championships.
“This is great recognition for our program and for Gia as well,” said head coach Brooke Atkinson. “We are going to continue to work hard and embrace the challenge of playing with a target on our backs every night.”
In the head coaches poll, NM State captured six first-place votes and 62 points with California Baptist picking up two for 57 total points and Kansas City one and 44 points. Following the Roos is UT Rio Grande Valley (40) in fourth, CSU Bakersfield (35) in fifth and Utah Valley (29) in sixth. Rounding out the rankings are GCU (25), Seattle U (24) and Chicago State (8).
The Aggies were also picked to capture the WAC title by the media, gaining eight first-place votes and 110 points to three for California Baptist (96) and two for Kansas City (92). The vaqueros (66) were also picked to finish third by the media with Utah Valley (64) and CSU Bakersfield (57) flipping positions in the media poll. Seattle U (49) was picked to finish seventh with Grand Canyon (38) and Chicago State (13) picked to finish eighth and ninth respectively.
Pack, a Phoenix native, was named preseason WAC Player of the Year by the league’s coaches and was named to the All-WAC First Team by the media. The senior averaged 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game a season ago as she was named First-Team All-WAC for the second-straight year while also being named WAC Tournament MVP after breaking the tournament record for points with 86. The dynamic guard also became NM State’s 24th 1,000-point scorer after scoring 13 points against Chicago State on Feb. 2 and currently sits at 15th in program history for points with 1,259.
“We are happy for Gia and we know how hard she works for her success,” added Atkinson. “She has embraced her role as a leader on this team and we expect big things out of her this coming season.”
The five-time defending WAC champions are set to open their season in the friendly confines of the Pan American Center against UC Riverside on Thursday, Nov. 7, at 6 p.m. (MT).