EIU Women's Basketball Seniors Named to OVC Preseason Team


Published on October 23 2012 2:46 pm
Last Updated on October 23 2012 2:46 pm
Written by Millie Lange

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – Eastern Illinois women’s basketball seniors Mariah King, Ta’Kenya Nixon and Sydney Mitchell were named to the Ohio Valley Conference’s Preseason Team as selected by conference head coaches and sports information directors. EIU was also tabbed to finish second in the conference’s west division.

EIU received five, first-place votes in the west division behind divisional favorite and defending OVC champions UT Martin who received 19, first-place votes. This season the OVC will split into two divisions with the addition of Belmont to the league.

SIU Edwardsville was selected to finish third in the west division followed by Murray State, Austin Peay and Southeast Missouri. Tennessee Tech was tabbed to capture the east division, earning a total of 15, first-place votes. Eastern Kentucky was picked to finish second followed by Belmont, Morehead State, Tennessee State and Jacksonville State.

EIU was the only school to place three players on the all-conference preseason squad, consisting of 10 players. UT Martin was the only other school with multiple players on the preseason team as two Skyhawks earned the honors. UT Martin’s Heather Butler was picked as the ‘Preseason Player of the Year’.

Nixon returns to the court this season after being tabbed the ‘OVC Defensive Player of the Year’ for the second time in her career a year ago while also being named to the all-conference first team for the third consecutive season. Nixon led the conference in field-goal percentage as she connected on 52.4 percent of her shot attempts – the highest percentage in the nation among players listed as a guard (17th overall). Additionally, Nixon led the conference with 2.7 steals per game while also ranking second in assists (4.5 apg), sixth in scoring (16.3 ppg) and 17th in rebounding (5.5 rpg).

Nixon enters the 2012-13 season with 1,442 career points, needing only 450 points to pass Rachel Galligan (2006-09) as the school’s all-time leading scorer.

King enters the upcoming season with 987 career points, needing only 13 points to break the 1,000 point career milestone. The Chicago native was named to the all-conference second team last season for the second time in her career. Last year, she ranked second in the OVC in field-goal percentage (.457) while adding 12.5 points per game and seven rebounds per game.

Mitchell earns all-conference honors for the first time in her career with the preseason recognition. The Columbus, Ind., native averaged 11 points per game last season while pulling down six rebounds per game. During OVC play, she averaged 12.3 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game through 16 contest. Mitchell enters the 2012-13 campaign with 801 career points, needing only 199 points to enter the 1,000 point club.

EIU returns 11 players from last year’s squad that posted a 22-9 (13-3 OVC) record and advanced to their third consecutive postseason tournament. EIU participated in the WNIT for the second time in three years when they faced Texas Tech in the first round of the tournament, falling 85-71 in Lubbock, Texas.

Under the direction of first-year head coach Lee Buchanan, the Panthers open the regular season at Indiana State on Nov. 9. EIU will host a preseason exhibition against Illinois-Springfield on Nov. 4 at 2 p.m.

Panther fans can get their first look at this year's EIU squad at Blue Madness on Oct. 31 at Lantz Arena.  This tip off event begins at 7 p.m. with trick-or-treating and Halloween themed games for fans of all ages before the introduction of the EIU basketball teams at 7:30 p.m.  Admission to the event is free.

The OVC Tournament will once again take place in Nashville, Tenn., on March 6-9 at Municipal Auditorium.  The top eight teams finishing based on conference record regardless of division will advance to the tournament with the two division winners being seeded first and second.