A Successful 2015-2016 season leaves Women’s basketball team hungry for more

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Melanie Flint

Senior Guard Tisha Philips is one of the returning starters from last seasons team

By Riley Baker, Staff Writer

After putting together their second straight 20-win season last year, the EWU Women’s Basketball team was ranked fourth in the Big Sky Conference media preseason poll.

There is plenty of excitement surrounding the team with seniors Ashli Payne and Tisha Phillips and junior Delaney Hodgins returning. The trio made up 52 percent of the team’s points last year and should be able to make up for the loss of the program’s all-time leading scorer, Hayley Hodgins, to graduation.

Of the returning players, Hodgins was the leading scorer last year, averaging 15.7 points per game. She has also been named to the Preseason All-Big Sky team.

“We’re really excited about the team we’ve got coming back from last year,” said head coach Wendy Schuller. “This summer our team worked extremely hard in the weight room and on the floor specifically on certain skills that each player had to work on. So I feel like our team chemistry, our strength and our skill level has all improved over last year.”

Phillips, a returning guard, is looking forward to the new season and her new role of being a team leader, attributing her knowledge of the team’s system as a tool to help her younger teammates.

“Being a leader is probably my biggest goal,” said Phillips. “Making sure my team is doing what it has to do as well as me doing what I have to get done and just kind of carrying the team and getting where we need to be.”

As far as personal goals go, Phillips said she feels the need to improve her game fundamentally. She said she wants to improve her ball handling and develop a jump shot, saying she felt she has been more of a two dimensional player and now wants to tighten everything up in her senior year.

After finishing in second place last year, the expectations are ramped up for this season. The team has a competitive non-conference schedule, playing at the University of Washington in Seattle on November 11 and Gonzaga at Reese Court on December 11 before league play begins on December 31 when Idaho comes to Cheney.

“We had a nice season last season, but it wasn’t enough for us, so we have high expectations,” said Schuller. “I know that [Phillips] and [Payne] want to have phenomenal senior years and I think that we’ve got a nice mix of players that put us in a position to do so.”

The 2016-17 season is scheduled to tip off at 1 p.m. on November 6 at Reese Court versus Eastern Oregon.