Cal State Bakersfield women’s basketball starts Western Athletic Conference play, heading on the road to face Seattle on Thursday at 6 p.m. The Roadrunners lost the WAC Tournament title game last season to the Redhawks and were picked second in the preseason polls. They've lost their final seven games heading into conference play, however.
Here’s a team-by-team breakdown previewing the WAC portion of the 2018-19 schedule:
Notable win: UC Riverside, 65-57
Notable loss: BYU, 76-69
Key player: Junior forward Britney Thomas (15.1 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 51.7 FG%)
Stat to know: The Lancers averaged 75.3 points per game in non-conference play, the most among WAC teams.
Analysis: CBU is solid offensively and has put up points against Division I teams. It won five straight to end non-conference play and should be competitive in the WAC.
Cal State Bakersfield
Notable win: Wright State, 76-74
Notable loss: UC Riverside, 79-67
Key player: Senior guard Alexxus Gilbert (16.6 PPG, 43.3 FG%, 38.3 3PT%)
Stat to know: CSUB averages 12.2 steals per game, best in the WAC and 15th in the country.
Analysis: The Roadrunners lost seven straight to end the non-conference schedule and are in desperate need of answers. Outside of Gilbert, there hasn’t really been a consistent scoring threat. The defense is strong but CSUB has not played well late in games.
Notable win: None
Notable loss: Valparaiso, 76-70
Key player: Sophomore guard Tyeshia Bowers (14.7 PPG, 2.8 APG)
Stat to know: Chicago State’s 23.3 turnovers per game is the third worst average in the country.
Analysis: The Cougars’ lone win in 30 games last season came against Utah Valley. They enter WAC play winless again, hoping for any win they can get.
Notable win: LIU Brooklyn, 65-62 (2OT)
Notable loss: Montana, 69-47
Key player: Senior center ShaRon Miller (10.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG)
Stat to know: GCU leads WAC teams in field goal percentage (44.6) and 3-point percentage (37.0).
Analysis: Wins weren’t easy for GCU in non-conference competition. The Lopes needed double overtime to beat LIU Brooklyn, which is ranked 349th out of 351 teams in RPI. But look out for Bakersfield High graduate Taylor Caldwell, who has started once during her freshman season at GCU and is averaging 8.4 points.
Notable win: Louisiana Tech, 80-70
Notable loss: Kansas, 67-55
Key player: Senior forward Ericka Mattingly (19.8 PPG, 6.7 APG, 6.3 RPG)
Stat to know: UMKC’s 15.4 turnovers per game are the fewest in the WAC.
Analysis: With an offense that likes to shoot 3-pointers and score at a relatively high rate, UMKC could pull off some upsets and move out of the middle of the pack. Mattingly accounts for almost half of the team’s field goals either by make or assist.
New Mexico State
Notable win: Denver, 66-64
Notable loss: UC Riverside, 65-64
Key player: Senior guard Brooke Salas (19.0 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 2.8 APG)
Stat to know: NMSU has the best rebounding and defensive scoring stats among WAC teams, getting almost 40 rebounds per game and holding opponents to 63.3 points.
Analysis: The Aggies’ Salas and Gia Pack are two of the best players in the conference. Together they score 34 points per game and Salas also has 23 blocks. NMSU should be the favorite to take the conference crown but is still a very beatable squad.
Notable win: None
Notable loss: All 13
Key player: Junior guard Kamira Sanders (13.6 PPG, 5.7 APG, 24 steals)
Stat to know: The Redhawks have held opponents to 24.4 percent from 3-point range, which ranks 10th in the nation.
Analysis: The winless non-conference performance doesn’t mean Seattle is down-and-out for WAC play. The Redhawks lost to some good teams, including several Pac-12, West Coast Conference and Big West squads. Sanders was the WAC Tournament MVP last season when the Redhawks beat CSUB for the title.
Texas-Rio Grande Valley
Notable win: Prairie View A&M, 57-50
Notable loss: Baylor, 98-37
Key player: Madison Northcutt (8.2 RPG, 7.8 PPG)
Stat to know: Amara Graham’s 1.61 assist-to-turnover ratio for UTRGV is the best among all WAC players.
Analysis: The Vaqueros are near the top of the conference in most offensive categories and near the bottom in most of the defensive categories. Lane Lord took over the head coach job at UTRGV in May, coming from Pittsburg State.
Notable win: UC Riverside, 56-53
Notable loss: Portland, 65-60
Key player: Junior forward/center Jordan Holland (12.9 PPG, 1.2 APG, 5.7 RPG)
Stat to know: Utah Valley’s 43 percent shooting is second best for WAC teams.
Analysis: UVU clearly misses its seniors from last season like Mariah Seals and Taylor Christensen, who were among the conference’s best players. This year, the Wolverines don’t thrive on the 3-pointer and struggle with rebounds. They make up for it by grabbing steals and not fouling.