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SEATTLE – (Nov. 8) After surprising the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) with a second-place showing last season, a youthful Seattle University women’s basketball team will look to continue its ascent in the WAC in 2017-18.

Coach Suzy Barcomb took SU from a predicted seventh-place finish to the WAC Championship game and an appearance in the WNIT. Now in her second season, Barcomb will need to count on new contributors in order for the Redhawks to have similar success.

Senior Alexis Montgomery leads the way after leading the team in points, rebounds, and assists last season. The native of Beaverton, Ore., was chosen WAC Preseason Player of the Year entering her final season at Seattle U.

“It was an honor for her to get (Preseason) Player of the Year,” said Barcomb. “Now she has to prove that she deserves that honor.”

In 2016-17, Montgomery was an All-WAC First Team choice. She averaged 15.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game, putting up nine double-doubles. Montgomery scored a career-high 25 points on two occasions.

Kamira Sanders, the reigning WAC Freshman of the Year, is back after pacing conference rookies in points, assists, steals, and minutes played. The Redding, Calif., native compiled seven double-digit scoring games, including a 24-point effort against Grand Canyon on Jan. 21.

“She’s picked up where she left off last year,” said Barcomb. “She knows how to score, so now it’s about advancing her game. She’s hard to guard in the open floor.”

A versatile presence in the front court, Jacinta Beckley returns for her senior season looking to build off her strong play in WAC action last year. The Wellington, New Zealand, native recorded 11.4 points and 3.7 rebounds, along with 55.3 field goal shooting, in nine conference outings. A hand injury halted Beckley’s stretch of solid play and forced her to miss eight games.

“She brings a different element for us,” said Barcomb. “She was an all-conference player for us (before her injury).”

Ashlyn Lewey rounds out SU’s senior class. The wing from Spokane, Wash., shot 41.1 percent from three-point range last season. Lewey notched seven games with two or more made treys in her junior season.

“She has the green light to shoot it,” said Barcomb. “We feel like when she shoots it, it’s going in. Ashlyn also really understands her leadership role on this team.”

Sophomores Joana Alves, Genessa Bedoya, and Carla Bieg are expected to have bigger roles this season. Alves, a 6-3 post from Lisbon, Portgual, appeared in 25 contests last year, including six starts. Bedoya, a 5-5 guard from Santa Clarita, Calif., played in 27 games at point guard. A 5-6 guard out of Barcelona, Spain, Bieg made five appearances in 2016-17.

“Joana is starting to understand how to use her frame,” said Barcomb. “She’s really effective when she plays the way she can. Carla has been shooting really well. She has a high basketball IQ. Genessa really understands the offense and how to get people in the right spot.”

Delaney McCann, a redshirt freshman, will see time in the front court. The 6-1 native of Santa Clarita, Calif., will stretch the floor for the Redhawks.

“Delaney understands the offense,” said Barcomb. “It was beneficial for her to get to play in Europe. She can run the floor really well for us.”

Barcomb’s class of newcomers will be looked to for minutes this season. Madeline Dopplick, a junior transfer, will be in the mix at both guard spots immediately. One of the quickest players on the roster, freshman McKenzi Williams will be a factor early in the season.

“McKenzi is cat-quick,” said Barcomb. “She’s picking up our sets and learning how to effectively run our offense. Madeline can play both guard spots for us. She adds a different element to our team and makes us harder to guard.”

Leilia Orji and Kallin Spiller, a pair of rookie post players, will have the opportunity for minutes this year.

“Leilia is making strides recently,” said Barcomb. “She’s so hungry for the ball and can score in a variety of ways. Kallin is a different ‘5’ that can step out and shoot it for us.”

Freshmen Leilani Peat and Makenna Schoenhofer have been working through injuries this fall, with Barcomb is hopeful they’ll return to contribute later in the season.

“Makenna did a little bit of everything for her team in high school,” said Barcomb. “We like her competitive nature. Peat has diversity to her game and a high basketball IQ.”

SU will face a challenging schedule that features a pair of Pac-12 foes who qualified for the NCAA Tournament. It opens the season on Friday with Idaho State visiting the Connolly Complex. The Redhawks make the first of four trips to California on Nov. 17, as they face UC Santa Barbara and then Pepperdine (Nov. 19) on the first road trip of the season.

After two home dates, Seattle U will play at No. 25 Cal on Nov. 30. To open December, it hosts San Diego (Dec. 2) and Nevada (Dec. 9) at the Connolly Complex. The Redhawks then embark on a demanding stretch, playing three games in three different states over five days. On Dec. 13, they play at Montana, followed by a visit to Idaho, before coming home to host Pacific.

Just three days later, SU plays at No. 25 Washington on Dec. 20. The final home game of the calendar year comes on Dec. 22 as UC Irvine comes to Connolly. After a Dec. 30 date at CSUN, the Redhawks enter WAC play after the new year.

They begin with three road games before welcoming defending WAC champion New Mexico State on Jan. 18. Barcomb’s squad closes the regular season with three home games from Feb. 22-Mar. 3. The WAC Championship is slated for Mar. 7-10 in Las Vegas.

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