St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 27, 2016 – The Washington University in St. Louis women's basketball team opens the 2016-17 season ranked in the top-10 of Preseason Polls announced by D3hoops.com and the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA).
WashU, who finished the 2015-16 season with a 23-6 record, was No. 7 and No. 9 in the WBCA and D3hoops.com polls, respectively, which were released during preseason.
The 2015-16 national runner-up Tufts University opens the season as the No. 1 team while defending NCAA Division III national champion Thomas More College received more first place votes than Tufts (10-9), but finds itself as No. 4 in the poll. Also ahead of Thomas More is No. 2 Amherst College and No. 3 University of Texas at Tyler.
Joining the Bears in the poll from the University Athletic Association (UAA) are University of Rochester at No. 7 and Carnegie Mellon University at No. 18. New York University also received votes but did not place in the top-25.
WashU returns two players with starting experience from last year's team that was the UAA Champion and advanced to the NCAA Sectional Final round before falling to eventual champion Thomas More.
Seniors Lily Sarros and Zoe Vernon return to the Bears lineup after starting more than 20 games each. Sarros averaged 9.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest while Vernon chipped in 7.8 points while totaling 43 assists.
The Bears also return junior Natalie Orr, who was named to the all-UAA second team despite missing the final three games of the regular season. Orr was second on the team in scoring (10.0 ppg), and led the Bears with 12.4 points per game in her 11 UAA games played. Orr ranked second in the UAA in three-point percentage (43.9) and three-pointers made per game (2.1), finishing with a team-high 47 triples in the regular season.
Finishing a close second to Orr in three-point efficiency was sophomore Rachael Sondag who registered a 43.9-percent clip from beyond the arc while averaging 5.7 ppg. Sondag scored a career-high 23 points in the NCAA Sectional Final game, as she converted seven of nine shots from three-point range.
Seniors Jenn Dynis (5.4 ppg, .457 field goal percentage), Ereka Hunt (3.4 ppg), and sophomores Stephanie Botkin (4.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg) and Claudia Smith (2.8 ppg, 1.5 rpg) will return after registering close to 10 minutes per game last season.
Head coach Nancy Fahey begins her 31st season at Washington University with a 711-130 record. Fahey has led the Bears to 26 seasons with at least 20 wins and WashU has reached 28 NCAA Tournament appearances with her at the helm.
The Bears open the 2016-17 season at home Tuesday Nov. 15 against Westminster (Mo.) College at 7 p.m. WashU will then host Hanover College and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on the Nov. 18 and 19 weekend during the 16th Annual McWilliams Classic. Be sure to stay up to date on all your Bears scores and awards by following @WashUBears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.