Lady Griz Favored by Coaches, Media to Win Big Sky Title

By Beacon Staff

HELENA (AP) – The University of Montana women’s basketball team, which returns the top seven scorers from last year’s 27-4 squad, is favored by league coaches and media to repeat as league champion.

The defending regular-season champions received seven first-place votes and a total of 63 points in the coaches poll, followed by last year’s tournament champion Idaho State with two first-place votes and 58 points.

In the media poll, the Lady Griz received 198 points and 24 first-place votes, while the Bengals and 188 points with two first-place votes.

The Lady Griz return all five starters including 2006-07 league MVP Mandy Morales while Idaho State returns with four starters and will be led by last year’s tournament MVP Natalie Doma, who led the Big Sky in scoring and rebounding with 22.1 points and 12 rebounds per game. Morales averaged 19.7 points and 6.8 assists for the Lady Griz.

Montana State, which returns four starters from last year’s 13-16 team, is picked third in both polls.

Northern Arizona finished fourth in the media poll and fifth in the coaches poll, while Weber State was fourth in the coaches poll and fifth in the media poll.

The media and coaches polls both listed Portland State in sixth, Eastern Washington in seventh, Sacramento State in eighth and Northern Colorado in ninth.

The 2007-08 basketball season gets under way on Nov. 9, with conference games starting on Jan. 3. The Big Sky women’s tournament is slated for March 13-15 and will be hosted by the regular season champion.<

Team, points, (first place votes)

1. Montana 63 (7)

2. Idaho State 58 (2)

3. Montana State 44

4. Weber State 42

5. Northern Arizona 41

6. Portland State 30

7. Eastern Washington 23

8. Sacramento State 12

9. Northern Colorado 11<

Team, points, (first place votes)

1. Montana 198 (24)

2. Idaho State 188 (2)

3. Montana State 144

4. Northern Arizona 134

5. Weber State 126

6. Portland State 118

7. Eastern Washington 78

8. Sacramento State 48

9. Northern Colorado 34

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