Western Illinois Women's Basketball: Leathernecks Picked Second In Preseason Women’s Basketball Poll


Emily Clemens, WIU Women’s Basketball

MACOMB, Ill.— Western Illinois women’s basketball was selected second in the preseason standings, the league office announced Wednesday (Oct. 4). The Leathernecks also had a trio of players selected to Preseason All-League honors in Emily Clemens (Preseason Player of the Year, First Team), Morgan Blumer(First Team) and Taylor Higginbotham (Second Team).

“It’s always fun when the poll comes out to think about how many good teams and players we have in our league,” said head coach JD Gravina. “It’s a great achievement for Emily, Morgan an Taylor to get preseason accolades in such a good league. Getting picked second, our highest mark my tenure, shows the progress we’ve made as a program. it also allows us to continue to play with a chip on our shoulder  and work hard to prove that we deserve to be talked abourt as a top tier team in The Summit League.”

South Dakota state was picked as the preseason favorite with 380 total votes (16 first place), followed by the Leathernecks with 372 total (12 first place). South Dakota was selected third with 307, rounded out by Oral Roberts (fourth), Omaha (fifth), North Dakota State (sixth), Denver (seventh) and Fort Wayne (eighth).

Emily Clemens was tabbed Preseason ‘Player of the Year’ along with earning ‘First Team’ honors after a stellar 2016-17 campaign, where she averaged 18.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game. Last season, Clemens helped the Leathernecks capture The Summit League Regular Season and Tournament Championship, earning league ‘Player of the Year’ and ‘Tournament Most Valuable Player,’ along with being named a Summit League ‘Female Athlete of the Month’ for February of 2017, and a five-time Summit League ‘Player of the Week.’ She also broke the league record with 241 assists in a single season and named to The Summit League All-League Academic Team. She was also named to the NCAA Women’s Basketball ‘Starting Five’ weekly honor twice.

Blumer enters the new season off a debut season that included being named Summit League ‘Transfer of the Year’ as well as earning ‘First Team’, ‘All Newcomer,’ ‘All-Tournament,’ ‘Female Athlete of the Month (January 2017)’ and ‘Player of the Week’ twice. Her 89 3-pointers in a season marked a new program record, and her three-quarter buzzer beater before the half earned her the No. 1 play on ESPN Sportscenter’s ‘Top 10.’

Higginbotham netted All-League ‘Second Team’ honors during the 2016-17 campaign, as well as being named a Summit League ‘Player of the Week’ Jan. 9. She was also named to the NCAA Women’s Basketball ‘Starting Five’ weekly award Jan. 11 and averaged 14.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.

The Leathernecks have six weeks of preparation before their season-opener inside Western Hall against Kansas City (Nov. 11). Following the first game of the season, the Leathernecks have three more at home before entering the bulk of the non-league season, which consists of marquee matchups against Illinois (Nov. 21), Stanford (Dec. 18) and Gonzaga (Dec. 21). The Summit League campaign officially opens Dec. 30 at Fort Wayne, followed by the league home matchup against South Dakota (Jan. 4).

Single-game tickets will be on sale beginning Monday, Oct. 20. Leatherneck Club members will have the opportunity to purchase single game tickets on Oct. 13, 2017.  Click here to learn more about the Leatherneck Club. For more ticketing information, fans can also visit LeatherneckTickets.com.

Place Team Points (1st)
1. South Dakota State 380 (16)
2. Western Illinois 372 (12)
3. South Dakota 307
4. Oral Roberts 238
5. Omaha 185
6. North Dakota State 150
7. Denver 143
8. Fort Wayne 60
Preseason Player of the Year: Emily Clemens, Western Illinois

First Team 

Name School Pos. Year ’16-17 Stats (ppg / rpg / apg)
Allison Arens South Dakota G Jr. 17.1 / 5.3 / 3.8
Morgan Blumer Western Illinois G Sr. 16.8 / 6.1 / 1.4
Emily Clemens Western Illinois G Sr. 18.9 / 4.0 / 7.3
Madison Guebert South Dakota State G Jr. 15.3 / 2.4 / 1.9
Macy Miller South Dakota State G R-Jr. 14.9 / 5.0 / 2.1
Ellie Thompson South Dakota State F Sr. 13.5 / 7.0 / 1.8
Second Team
Name School Pos. Year ’16-17 Stats (ppg / rpg / apg)
Ciara Duffy South Dakota G So. 11.2 / 4.6 / 2.8
Taylor Higginbotham Western Illinois G Jr. 14.3 / 5.6 / 2.7
Faith Ihim Oral Roberts F Sr. 13.1 / 7.8 / 0.7
Maria Martianez Oral Roberts F Jr. 12.3 / 7.2 / 1.8
Taylor Thunstedt North Dakota State G Sr. 14.5 / 3.3 / 1.8

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