Kyle Chilton | Posted: 31 Oct 2016 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

Cougars picked second, Pulsipher and Purcell earn preseason honors

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – BYU has been picked to finish second in the annual West Coast Conference Preseason Women’s Basketball Coaches Poll, announced Monday at the WCC Tip-Off Event at the Spectrum Sports Studios.

Gonzaga has been selected as the favorite to win the 2016-17 title in the annual preseason poll of the WCC’s 10 head coaches. The Bulldogs (19-14, 10-8) collected five of the 10 first place votes and claimed 76 points to finish ahead of the 75 points earned by BYU (26-7, 16-2). The Cougars earned four first-place votes after winning the first WCC regular season title in program history last year.

BYU seniors Kalani Purcell and Makenzi Pulsipher were named to the 2016-17 All-WCC Preseason women’s basketball team. It is the first preseason honor for both players.

Purcell, a 6-foot-2 forward from Hamilton, New Zealand, led the Cougar team with a double-double 12.0 points and 12.6 rebounds and averaged a team-best 4.7 assists per game. She ended her junior year ranked second in the nation in defensive rebounds per game, fourth in total rebounds and fifth in rebounds per game. She also ranked 13th nationally in double-doubles. Purcell was on last year’s All-Conference Team, made the 2016 WCC Championships All-Tournament Team and garnered three WCC Player of the Week citations.

Pulsipher, an All-WCC Second Team honoree in 2016, started every game last season and was the team’s second leading scorer with 12.7 points and 2.4 rebounds. Pulsipher, a 5-foot-8 guard from Draper, Utah, had the most steals on the team with 70 and was the team’s leading free-throw shoot at 79.5 percent from the line. She was also named to the 2016 WCC All-Academic Team.

Saint Mary’s (24-8, 14-4) received the other first place vote and was the preseason pick to finish third in the conference with 66 points.

San Diego (25-8, 13-5) and Santa Clara (23-9, 13-5) were picked fourth and fifth after the two teams tied for third in the standings last season. The Toreros were predicted to finish fourth with 58 while first-year head coach Bill Carr’s Santa Clara Broncos were picked to finish fifth with 44 points one season after the team’s best conference finish since taking second in 2007-08.

Two points separated the sixth through eighth spots on the poll. Loyola Marymount was selected sixth with 36 points after going 11-20 (6-12 WCC) last season. Coming in seventh with 35 points was the reigning conference tournament champion San Francisco Dons, a program that will be under the direction of a new coach in 2016-17 in Molly Goodenbour. Pacific (13-17, 6-12 WCC) was one point behind with 34 to take eighth in the preseason conference poll.

Pepperdine and Portland tied for ninth in the preseason poll with 13 points each. The Waves went 7-24 (2-16 WCC) last season, and the Pilots put together a record of 3-27 (1-17 WCC).

Seven programs placed at least one student-athlete on the preseason All-West Coast Conference Team. BYU, Gonzaga and Santa Clara led all programs with two representatives each on the squad, including Purcell and Pulsipher from BYU, Barta and Tinkle from Gonzaga, and the senior duo of Marie Bertholdt and Lori Parkinson from the Broncos. Also earning Preseason All-Conference honors are Stella Beck of Saint Mary’s, Desire Finnie of Pacific, Maya Hood of San Diego and Rachel Howard of San Francisco.

The preseason poll and All-WCC team were selected solely by a vote of the conference's 10 head coaches.

West Coast Conference play begins on Thursday, December 29. For the most up-to-date schedule with game times and broadcast listings, visit and follow @WCChoops and @TheWtv on Twitter.

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2016-17 WCC Preseason Women’s Basketball Coaches Poll
Team (First Place Votes) Pts.
1. Gonzaga (5) 76
2. BYU (4) 75
3. Saint Mary’s (1) 66
4. San Diego 58
5. Santa Clara 44
6. Loyola Marymount 36
7. San Francisco 35
8. Pacific 34
T9. Pepperdine 13
T9. Portland 13
2016-17 All-WCC Preseason Women’s Basketball Team
Name Institution Yr. Pos.
Jill Barta Gonzaga So. F
Stella Beck Saint Mary's Jr. G
Marie Bertholdt Santa Clara Sr. F
Desire Finnie Pacific Jr. G
Maya Hood San Diego Sr. F
Rachel Howard San Francisco Sr. G
Lori Parkinson Santa Clara Sr. F
Makenzi Pulsipher BYU Sr. G
Kalani Purcell BYU Sr. F
Elle Tinkle Gonzaga Sr. G

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