Bulletin Staff Report

The Howard Payne Lady Jackets — coming off their most successful season in program history and an appearance in the NCAA Division III “Sweet 16” — are favored to repeat as American Southwest Conference West division women’s basketball champions.

The Lady Jackets (28-2, 20-1), who won their second ASC title in three years last season, received 20-of-24 first-place votes and garnered 188 points in the preseason media poll, which was released Wednesday.

HPU senior guard Meia Daniels was also tabbed the ASC West’s preseason player of the year. Daniels was the ASC tournament MVP last year and averaged 16.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, while tallying 69 steals. Daniels was also named the 2006-07 ASC Female Athlete of the Year.

Hardin-Simmons (21-5, 18-3) came in second in the poll, followed by McMurry (24-5, 19-2), Mary Hardin-Baylor (16-10, 14-7), Concordia (8-16, 8-13), Schreiner (6-19, 6-15), Sul Ross (6-18, 4-17) and Texas Lutheran (1-24, 1-20).

Hardin-Simmons received three first-place votes and 157 points, while McMurry had the other first-place vote and 152 points.

The top four teams from the West division will meet the top four teams from the East division at the home of the East champion in the eight-team ASC championship tournament in late February.

East Texas Baptist (22-5, 17-3) is picked to win the East under new head coach Jay Bowen. The Lady Tigers also have the ASC East preseason player of the year in senior guard Sade’ Stewart.