The Wayne State women's basketball team was picked to finish fourth overall and third in the South Division in the 2016-17 NSIC Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll released by the league office in Burnsville, Minn.
Winona State edged Northern State by one point, 201-200, as the preseason favorite to win the NSIC this season. The Warriors received seven first-place votes compared to Northern State’s three. Augustana was third with 195 points and four first-place votes followed by Wayne State in fourth with 183 and MSU Moorhead fifth with 163. Minnesota State (146), Concordia-St. Paul (140), St. Cloud State (124), Sioux Falls (108) and Minnesota Duluth (107) round out the top 10 teams.
In the NSIC South Division, Winona State was the favorite with 42 points and three first-place votes followed by Augustana in second with 40 points and two first-place votes. Wayne State was a close third with 38 points and two first-place votes while Minnesota State was fourth with 32 point and the remaining first-place vote. Concordia-St. Paul (28), Sioux Falls (24), Upper Iowa (11) and southwest Minnesota State (9) fill out the South Division poll.
Wayne State’s Player to Watch this season is Paige Ballinger, who was also voted by league coaches as the South Division Preseason Player of the Year. The 6-foot-1 junior from Pender averaged 15.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game last season to earn first-team All-NSIC honors last season. She ranked second in the league in field goal percentage (.534), fourth in blocked shots per game and seventh in scoring.
Wayne State returns four starters and eight letter winners from last year’s team that was 17-12 overall and 13-9 in the NSIC South Division, finishing fourth.
Wayne State opens the 2016-17 season at home on Saturday, Nov. 12, hosting Nebraska-Kearney at 6 p.m., followed by a 3 p.m. home game Sunday, Nov. 13 against Peru State.