Women's basketball opens conference play at home

UMW News Bureau

The University of Montana Western Bulldogs women’s basketball team opens Frontier Conference play at home on Jan. 6 and 7. Friday’s conference opener is against the Lewis-Clark State Warriors at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday’s game is against the Westminster College Griffins also at 5:30 p.m. By Lowell Peterson The University of Montana Western Bulldogs women’s basketball team opens Frontier Conference play at home on Jan. 6 and 7. Friday’s conference opener is against the Lewis-Clark State Warriors at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday’s game is against the Westminster College Griffins also at 5:30 p.m. The Montana Western women enter conference play with a 10-3 record. The Bulldogs received a vote in the latest national rankings poll for the first time in four years and are off to their best start under third-year coach Cara Coacchiarella. The Bulldogs face a stiff challenge in their conference opener against L-C State. The Warriors bring a 14-1 record and a number four ranking in the NAIA national poll into the contest. The Warriors have won seven in a row and their only loss was on the road to 11th-ranked Azusa Pacific, 45-54, on Nov. 25. Westminster, under first-year coach Shelley Jarrard, got off to a slow start on the season, but the Griffins have won four of their last five games to improve to 7-6 on the year and also received votes in the latest poll. Sammi Bignell and Hayley Pettit lead the Bulldog offense. Both players have scored 201 points, good for a 15.5 average. Pettit also pulls down 10.9 rebounds per game, first in the conference and 13th in the NAIA. Nicole Tams averages 10.5 points per game and Alecia Wilson is the leader in assists at four per game. Bignell is the leading three-point shooter, making 16 of 47 on the season. Tams has the top three-point percentage at .444 (12-27). Kaci Matthies leads in field goal percentage at .538 (21-39) and Jenna Banks is number one in free throw percentage at .800 (16-20). Jasmine Stohr is the leader of L-C State, averaging 21.3 points per game. She has the top scoring average among Frontier players and is third best in the NAIA. Kirsi Voshell also scores in double figures at 13.2 points per game and leads the NAIA in field goal percentage at .647 (88-136). Alyssa Fierro, a Bigfork, Mont. native, averages 10.2 rebounds per game, good for second in the conference and 17th in the NAIA. Brittaney Niebergall is the assists leader with 2.7 per game. Westminster boasts a balanced offense with five players scoring in double figures on the year. Cydney Tibbitts leads the way with 13 points per game followed by Nicole Yazzie (12.8), Dana Bates (11.9), Shelby Ellsworth (11.6) and Jenteal Jackson (10.2). Tibbitts is the top rebounder at 8.5 per game and assists at 2.5 per game. Yazzie is the top free throw percentage shooter in the NAIA at .963 (52-54). Both games will start at 5:30 p.m. in the Straugh Gymnasium on the Montana Western campus.