Women’s basketball garners two first-place votes, picked to finish fourth in preseason poll

Then-junior Caira Washington navigates a post-trap in GW's win over American last season. Washington was named to the Preseason All-Conference First Team Tuesday. Zach Montellaro | Senior Staff Photographer
Then-junior Caira Washington navigates a post-trap in GW’s win over American last season. Washington was named to the Preseason All-Conference First Team Tuesday. Hatchet file photo. 

Women’s basketball has been picked to finish fourth in this year’s Atlantic 10 Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the league announced Tuesday.

Saint Louis was picked as the favorite to win the conference this season, collecting 191 points and nine first-place votes in the poll. Dayton and Duquesne (three first-place votes) tied as projected second-place finishers with 166 points each.

The Colonials – who shared the 2015-2016 regular-season title with the Billikens and the Dukes – received two first-place votes 157 points.

Senior Caira Washington earned a spot on the Preseason All-Conference First Team, along with Charise Wilson (Rhode Island), Janelle Hubbard (Richmond), Jenna Burdette (Dayton) and Jackie Kemph (Saint Louis).

The 6-foot-2-inch forward – who averaged 13.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game in 2015-2016 – was also selected to the Preseason All-Defensive Team.

Fellow fourth-year Colonial Hannah Schaible also picked up preseason honors with an All-Conference Third Team nod. At guard, Schaible averaged 10.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game last season.

GW enters the 2016-2017 campaign as reigning A-10 champions for the second consecutive year. Finishing with a 26-7 overall and 13-3 A-10 record last year, the Colonials spent three weeks in the AP Top 25 Poll and earned a No. 8 seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. They were eliminated in the first round of the Big Dance by No. 9 seed Kansas State.

The team lost key contributors this offseason in Jonquel Jones and Lauren Chase, two of GW’s top-five scorers who each graduated last spring. However, the Colonials welcome freshmen guards Harper Birdsong, Kendall Breese, graduate student forward Lexi Martins this fall.

The upcoming campaign also marks the inaugural season for head coach Jennifer Rizzotti, who took over the program in April after former head coach Jonathan Tsipis left for a position at Wisconsin.

The Colonials 2016-2017 season-opener is slated for Nov. 11 at Georgetown. GW returns to the Smith Center on Nov. 13 for its home-opener against Princeton.

The 2017 A-10 Championship will feature “a new, enhanced format, with six first-round games being played on campus sites, Feb. 25 and 26, before heading to Richmond, March 3-5 for the quarterfinals, semifinals and championship final.” All seven games of the championship will be played in the Richmond Coliseum.

2016-2017 A-10 Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll

1. Saint Louis (9): 191

2. Dayton: 166

Duquesne (3): 166

4. George Washington (2): 157

5. VCU: 148

6. Fordham: 117

7. Richmond: 108

8. Saint Joseph’s: .94

9. Rhode Island: 78

10. St. Bonaventure: 68

11. George Mason: 64

12. La Salle: 49

13. Davidson: 42

14. Massachusetts: 22

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