TACOMA, Washington – First-year head coach Casey Kushiyama is ready to continue a successful Puget Sound women's basketball program this winter, as the Loggers return two All-Northwest Conference honorees to the hardwood.
Both Elizabeth Prewitt and Jamie Lange were named to the 2016-17 All-NWC Second Team, and Lange was also named the NWC Freshman of the Year. Lange was recently named the Northwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year for women's soccer, and she will rejoin the women's basketball team shortly after the start of the season.
Prewitt averaged 13.8 points per game in 28 starts last year, while shooting 45.1% from the floor. She scored at least 20 points in eight games, including a career-high 31 against Simpson in the D3Hoops Classic.
Lange was the league's second-best rebounder with 9.5 boards per game. She also finished her rookie season with the second-best field-goal percentage in the NWC (53.7%). Lange notched at least 16 rebounds in five different games last year, including a season-high 18 against both Willamette and Pacific. She saved her best for the NCAA Tournament, when she scored 30 points and grabbed 14 boards in a first-round win over UC-Santa Cruz.
Senior Claire Fitzgerald returns to the post for the Loggers. She started 23 of 29 games last year, averaging 6.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. One of Fitzgerald's most memorable games last year was a 15-point effort in just 20 minutes against Cal Lutheran.
Sophomore Mara Henderson is poised to set up the Puget Sound offense this winter. In limited time as a freshman, the St. Louis Park, Minnesota, native showed her ability to distribute - and take care of - the ball by finishing the season with a 2.14-1 assist-turnover ration.
Fellow sophomore RaeAnn Allen also figures to see her role increase after playing in 28 games last season. Kushiyama is excited about Allen's length on defense, and anticipates that her rebounding will lead to opportunities in the transition game.
Kushiyama comes to Puget Sound with a breadth of coaching experience in the NWC. He pent the past five seasons as the top assistant at Whitman, where he helped lead the Blues to the three NCAA National Tournament appearances (9-3 overall in NCAA tournament games). Kayla Reeves joins the coaching staff after serving as a graduate assistant coach for the Gonzaga women's basketball team. Joleen LaMay returns to the Logger bench for her 19th season as a Puget Sound assistant coach.
The 2016-17 Loggers won the program's first outright conference title by posting an undefeated record in the NWC (16-0), and Puget Sound reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in a three-year span. The recent success landed Puget Sound a No. 17 national ranking by D3hoops.com entering this season.
The Loggers open the season by hosting the McArthur Classic, Nov. 17-18. The Loggers take on St. Martin's in the first day of the Classic, followed by a game against Claremont-M-S.
The first conference game of the year is at home, Dec. 1, against Whitworth.