Western Kentucky senior forward Chastity Gooch runs drills Sunday during the team’s first practice at E.A. Diddle Arena. Bac To Trong/Daily News
The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team was picked to finish second in Conference USA by the league’s coaches, and senior forward Chastity Gooch is the C-USA preseason player of the year, the conference announced today.
The Lady Toppers, who went 24-9 last year and won the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in their last year in the league, received five first-place votes – one fewer than C-USA’s top vote-getter, Middle Tennessee.
MTSU received 181 total points, two ahead of WKU and 18 points ahead of third-place Southern Miss, which received one first-place vote. Texas El Paso also garnered a first-place vote and was picked fourth.
In addition to the player of the year Gooch, WKU senior guard Alexis Govan and redshirt sophomore guard Kendall Noble were named to the preseason all-Conference USA team.
Gooch averaged 18.4 points and nine rebounds per game as a junior and was named the Sun Belt’s defensive player of the year for the second straight season. She’s the leading active career point scorer in Conference USA with 1,322 career points and one of just four active players in the league with 1,000 career points entering this season.
Govan was the Sun Belt’s preseason player of the year in 2013-14, but she missed all but 11 games with a stress fracture in her left tibia. She was averaging 16.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.5 steals before the injury.
Noble was the SBC freshman of the year last season. She averaged 11 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.5 steals.
2014-15 Preseason C-USA Women’s Basketball Poll
1. Middle Tennessee (6) – 181 points
2. WKU (5) – 179 points
3. Southern Miss (1) – 163 points
4. UTEP (1) – 154 points
5. Charlotte – 132 points
6. Old Dominion – 116 points
7. Louisiana Tech – 105 points
8. UAB – 104 points
t9. North Texas – 70 points
t9. UTSA (1) – 70 points
11. FIU – 61 points
12. Rice – 58 points
13. Florida Atlantic – 45 points
14. Marshall – 32 points
(#) – designates first-place votes
Preseason Player of the Year
Chastity Gooch, WKU
2014-15 Preseason All-Conference USA Women’s Basketball Team
Lefty Webster, Charlotte, So., G, Norfolk, Virginia
Whitney Frazier, Louisiana Tech, Sr., F, El Dorado, Arkansas
Olivia Jones, Middle Tennessee, So., G/F, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Tamara Jones, Southern Miss, Sr., F, Prosser, Washington
Chelsee Black, UAB, Jr., G, Bessemer, Alabama
Chastity Gooch, WKU, Sr., F, Franklin, Kentucky
Alexis Govan, WKU, Sr., G/F, San Antonio
Kendall Noble, WKU, RS So., G, Hazard, Kentucky