Bulletin Staff Report

The reigning NCAA Division III national champion Howard Payne Lady Jackets have been picked to repeat as American Southwest Conference West Division champions in the preseason coaches and media poll, which was released Tuesday.

The Lady Jackets, who return nine members and two starters from last yearís 33-0 squad (21-0 in ASC), received 16 of 24 first-place votes and 177 points in the poll.

Hardin-Simmons (21-6, 17-4) was projected to finish second with seven first-place votes and 167 points, while McMurry (25-5, 19-2) picked up the final first-place vote and 140 points to place third in the poll.

The rest of the West predictions saw Mary Hardin-Baylor (15-12, 12-9) in fourth place with 129 points, followed by Concordia (14-11, 12-9, 93 points), Schreiner (7-18, 6-15, 70 points), Sul Ross (7-17, 6-15, 59 points) and Texas Lutheran (0-25, 0-21, 29 points).

Concordia senior guard Kassandra Bills and Mary Hardin-Baylor sophomore post Landie Thompson shared the West Division preseason player of the year honor.

In the ASC East, UT-Tyler (17-9, 14-6, 138 points) was selected as the favorite, followed by Louisiana College (15-11, 11-9, 111 points), Mississippi College (15-11, 12-8, 109 points), UT-Dallas (16-10, 12-9, 92 points), East Texas Baptist (8-16, 7-13, 71 points), LeTourneau (6-19, 4-16, 37 points) and Ozarks (1-24, 1-19, 30 points).

Louisiana College sophomore guard Tillisha Givens was selected the Eastís preseason player of the year.

The top four teams from the West and the East will square off in the ASC Championship Tournament Feb. 27-March 1 at the site of the No. 1 seed in the West.

The Lady Jackets, under first-year head coach Joshua Prock, open the 2008-09 season at the Colorado College Tip-Off Tournament Nov. 21-22. ASC play for Howard Payne starts on Nov. 25 with a trip to Sul Ross.