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Courtesy: Nelson Chenault
Sophomore Taylor Gault was named to the Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team.
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UALR Women Picked to Win West; Gault, Ford and Merriex Named Preseason All-SBC
UALR Sports Information
Release: 10/23/2012

LITTLE ROCK - The UALR women's basketball team has been picked to win its sixth-straight West Division title in a preseason poll of the Sun Belt Conference coaches, the league office announced on Tuesday. Sophomore Taylor Gault was named to the Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team, while junior Taylor Ford and senior Janette Merriex were named to the second and third teams, respectively.

The conference also announced that UALR's game against FIU on Saturday, Jan. 12 has been moved to 1 p.m. and will be televised by Cox Sports Television (CST) and Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS) as part of the Sun Belt Network television package.

The Trojans received 10 of 11 first-place votes as the preseason favorite in the West Division, with Arkansas State being the only other program to garner a first-place vote. Middle Tennessee also received 10 of 11 first-place votes as the East Division favorite. FIU collected the remaining first-place vote and is picked to finish second in the East.

FIU's Jerica Coley, the 2012 Sun Belt Player of the Year, was voted the SBC Preseason Player of the Year.

UALR and Middle Tennessee were the only two schools to have three players named to the preseason all-conference teams. The Blue Raiders' Icelyn Elie, Kortni Jones and Ebony Rowe were all named to the first team.

Gault was the league's Freshman of the Year, a First Team All-Sun Belt selection and was named to the Full Court Women's Freshman All-America Third Team in 2011-12. The Conway, Ark.-native led UALR in points (527), scoring average (16.0 per game) and steals (1.7 per game) while starting 32 of 33 games as a freshman. She was named the Most Outstanding Performer of the 2012 Sun Belt Tournament after averaging 22.7 points in three games, including a career-high 29 against South Alabama in the second round.

Ford appeared in all 33 games and made 32 starts for the Trojans as a sophomore in 2011-12. She led the team in minutes played (1,086) and minutes per game (32.9) while dishing out a team-best 132 assists (4.0 per game) on the year. The Columbia, Mo.-native is the team's leading returning rebounder after pulling down 140 (4.2 per game) in her sophomore campaign. Ford led the Trojans and put up the fourth-best single-season percentage in history by shooting 82.3 percent (51-for-62) from the foul line last year.

Merriex made 29 starts and appeared in all 33 games as a junior in 2011-12. A three-point specialist, Merriex led the Trojans in three-point field goals made (55), attempted (169) and percentage (.325) last season. Additionally, she was second on the team in steals (37) and averaged 7.3 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. A native of Wichita Falls, Texas, her 55 three-point field goals were the seventh-highest single-season total in school history, and she enters her senior season at No. 4 on the school's all-time three-point field goals made list (117). Her .319 career shooting percentage from behind the arc ranks sixth on UALR's all-time list.

UALR opens its season at Tulsa on Monday, Nov. 12, and plays its first home game against Missouri State on Thursday, Nov. 15. This season's Meet the Trojans event will take place Thursday, Nov. 1 at the Jack Stephens Center and will give fans their first chance to see the UALR men's and women's teams in action.

Below is a full list of the preseason honors:

2012-13 Women's Basketball Preseason All-Conference First Team

Taylor Gault (UALR, Sophomore, Guard)

Jerica Coley (FIU, Junior, Guard)

Icelyn Elie (Middle Tennessee, Senior, Forward)

Kortni Jones (Middle Tennessee, Senior, Guard)

Ebony Rowe (Middle Tennessee, Junior, Forward)

2012-13 Women's Basketball Preseason All-Conference Second Team

Taylor Ford (UALR, Junior, Guard)

Jane Morrill (Arkansas State, Junior, Forward)

Chenise Miller (Florida Atlantic, RS-Junior, Forward)

Finda Mansare (FIU, Senior, Forward)

Mansa El (South Alabama, Senior, Guard)

2012-13 Women's Basketball Preseason All-Conference Third Team

Janette Merriex (UALR, Senior, Guard/Forward)

Jasmine Shaw (Louisiana-Monroe, Junior, Guard)

Mary Nixon (South Alabama, Senior, Guard)

Chastity Gooch (WKU, Sophomore, Forward)

Alexis Govan (WKU, Sophomore, Guard)

2012-13 Women's Basketball Preseason Player of the Year

Jerica Coley (FIU, Junior, Guard)

2012-13 Women's Basketball Predicted Order of Finish

EAST DIVISION - Coaches' Votes in Parentheses

1. Middle Tennessee - 65 pts (10)

2. FIU - 54 pts (1)

3. South Alabama - 45 pts

4. Florida Atlantic - 29 pts

5. WKU - 26 pts

6. Troy - 12 pts

WEST DIVISION

1. UALR - 54 pts (10)

2. Arkansas State - 39 pts (1)

3. North Texas - 33 pts

4. ULM - 24 pts

5. Louisiana-Lafayette - 15 pts

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