The defending American Southwest Conference West Division champion Howard Payne Lady Jackets are picked to repeat, and thus host the conference championship tournament, as the ASC women’s basketball preseason poll was revealed earlier this week.
The Lady Jackets (18-10, 10-4) — who reached the ASC tournament final last season — received 76 points and seven first-place votes in the poll, edging out second-place Mary Hardin-Baylor (15-11, 9-5) with 71 points and four first-place votes.
HPU returns second-team all-ASC West forward Sarahi Castillo and honorable mention selections Presley McKethan and Micah Cisneroz. Castillo, Cisneroz and Valarie Matlock have been named to the ASC women’s basketball preseason watch list.
The rest of the ASC West projections include Hardin-Simmons (10-16, 6-8) in third place with 58 points and two first-place votes, Concordia (14-12, 5-9) in fourth place with 45 points, McMurry (5-19) — which is ineligible for the postseason due to reclassifying from the NCAA Division II ranks — in fifth place with 28 points and Sul Ross (4-21, 1-13) in sixth place with 17 points.
In the ASC East, reigning conference champion UT-Tyler (30-2, 15-0) is the unanimous choice with 78 points and all 13 first-place votes. LeTourneau (17-10, 11-4) is picked second followed by UT-Dallas (14-12, 6-9), East Texas Baptist (17-10, 8-7), Louisiana College (8-15, 6-9), Ozarks (10-13, 3-12) and Belhaven (8-17) — which is ineligible for the postseason due to reclassifying from the NAIA ranks.
The three-day, eight-team, single-elimination conference tournament is slated for Feb. 23-25 at the site of the West Division No. 1 seed. The ASC Championship Tournament features the top four seeds from both divisions. An automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championship will be on the line.
The Lady Jackets visit Abilene Christian at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 in the season opener and welcome Southwestern at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29 for the home opener. The Lady Jackets begin ASC action Dec. 1 at the Brownwood Coliseum against LeTourneau.