Women’s basketball makes first playoff in PacWest division

PLNU’s women basketball team proved they will be a threat at the PacWest playoffs March 5 after beating their preseason predictions. The team was expected to rank eighth out of the 13 teams in the conference but ended the season at third.

The preseason predictions were made Oct. 15.

“We’ve exceeded the preseason expectation,” said Head Coach Bill Westphal via telephone. “We do have the respect of a lot of different teams now.”

At the beginning of the season, the team struggled to determine how they worked best together.

“We were all new to each other and we were in the midst of finding an offense that suited our personnel,” said junior Jordan Ligons, a point guard, via email. “But as soon as we clicked, no one could beat us. It’s really great how we all came together to make it this far.”

Westphal said there were some difficulties because of the large amount of young players. However, the team this year has qualities that previous teams haven’t had.

“There aren’t really any cliques within this team,” Westphal said. “This year I feel like this team has the most commitment and closeness [compared to previous teams].”

Despite how well they have been working together, the team still has a lot of work to do if they want to bring home a win this year. Unlike past years where the team competed in the NCCAA, the women’s basketball team will play in the PacWest Division II tournament.

Although they’re competing in a higher division in comparison to previous seasons, Ligons is confident about her team’s odds. Other team members, like freshman forward Amanda Cunningham, want to use playoffs as a way to redeem themselves.

“I think we’re all excited to see some teams we lost to [earlier] this season and give them a run for their money,” Cunningham said. “We want that chance to prove we are the best.”

Westphal said the team needs to work hard if they want to win the playoffs.

“We have to play our best to do well,” Westphal said. “We’ll have to bring out our A-game. We have a good chance at playoffs.”

The playoffs in the PacWest tournament begin March 5 and will continue through March 7 at Concordia University. If they win the PacWest Championship, they will play in the regional tournament as a qualifier for the national competition at the end of March.