MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The Lewis & Clark women's basketball team enters the 2012-2013 season ranked as the 11th best team in Division III basketball according to the D3hoops.com Preseason Top-25 Poll announced on Wednesday.
"We are excited that our program has become nationally known and recognized," said head coach Juli Fulks. "Our players work to compete as one of the top programs in the country and it's exciting when those efforts are respected and rewarded."
The Pioneers earned 270 points in the poll after finishing last season with a 25-4 overall record. Lewis & Clark made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament, where they fell in dramatic fashion to Northwest Conference rival George Fox. The Bruins are the only NWC team ranked in the preseason poll. The Pioneers ended last season ranked 10th in the nation and reached a program high seventh in the week 12 poll.
The Pioneers, who made it to the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament for the second consecutive year during the 2011-2012 season, graduate four seniors from that team which included three starters.
Despite a relatively new look this season, the Pioneers will return Northwest Conference First-Team recipient Kristina Williams who became the fastest player in L&C history to score 1,000 career points. Williams will be rejoined by Sara Villanueva who earned NWC All-Conference Second-Team honors last season. Joining the returning players will be three freshman guards.
Williams and Villanueva return the majority of the Pioneers offensive presence, with Williams averaging 15.3 points a game and Villanueva adding 11.4. The duo also led the team in assists, free-throw percentage and three-point percentage last season.
The Pioneers begin the season on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 3 p.m. against Santa Cruz in the Bon Appetit Tournament.