|The Master's College|
|Friday, Oct. 30 | 6 p.m.|
|Reese Court | Cheney, Wash.|
|EWU on Facebook | EWU on Twitter|
After more than a month of practices, weights and conditioning, the Eastern Washington women's basketball team will get to face another opponent besides itself, kicking off its 2013-14 campaign with an exhibition game against The Master's College at Reese Court on Friday, Nov. 1, at 6 p.m.
For the first time in the Wendy Schuller era, the Eagles were tabbed the preseason favorite to win the Big Sky by both the league's coaches and media members. EWU's previous best preseason ranking under Schuller came prior to the 2010-11 season when Eastern was picked to finish second in both polls.
Eastern received six first-place votes out of a possible nine in the coaches poll and 20 first-place votes out of a possible 30 in the media poll.
The Eagles return four starters and nine letter winners from last year's squad that came in third in the Big Sky standings with a 14-6 mark in conference games. Highlighting a long list of talented returners are junior guard Lexie Nelson, who earned First Team All-Big Sky honors last season, and sophomore forward Hayley Hodgins, Eastern's first recipient of the Big Sky Freshman of the Year Award in 20 years.
EWU won nine of its first 12 league games a year ago before ending the year on a three-game winning streak heading into the conference tournament. Eastern flew by Montana State in the first round before falling in overtime to Northern Colorado in the semifinals. Seeded against PAC-12 member Washington in the first round of the WNIT, the Eagles lost a heartbreaker in double overtime, 65-60, in Seattle.
Junior guard Kylie Huerta, who started the final 17 games last year at the point guard position, will team up with Nelson to form one of the most experienced backcourts in the league. Senior forward Aubrey Ashenfelter, junior forward Melissa Williams and senior center Laura Hughes give the Eagles plenty of experience inside as all three played extensive minutes last season.
The Master's College won 25 games last year and debuted at No. 10 in the NAIA DI Preseason Coaches' Top 25 Poll this season. The Mustangs welcome back eight letter winners from last year's squad, including three starters. Last year's leading scorer and rebounder is back in forward Jacquelyn Marshall (13.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg) while guard Zoe Scott (9.3 ppg, 69 3FG) is the team's top outside shooter.