Escamilla named to Preseason All-WAC second team; Tarleton tabbed to finish 11th

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DENVER – Ahead of her senior season, Tarleton women’s basketball’s Marissa Escamilla was acknowledged by Western Athletic Conference media members as one of the conference’s elite post players. 

A 5-9 forward, Escamilla was named to the Preseason Media All-WAC second team on Tuesday as announced by the conference. Escamilla was one of just 19 players to receive Preseason All-Conference credentials. 

“I am extremely excited about Marissa being voted Preseason All-WAC second team,” head coach Misty Wilson said. “In essence, these are awards that were earned last year, and she deserves it for her efforts through a very difficult season. Marissa is an integral part of what we do, a great competitor that has worked extremely hard to become the player she is. We look forward to her having a great season!” 

The honor marks Escamilla’s second set of All-WAC accolades. The Burnet, Texas native was selected to the All-WAC honorable mention team at the conclusion of the 2020-21 campaign. 

She averaged 15.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per contest in conference games and grabbed the most offensive rebounds (59) of any WAC player. Escamilla also ranked fourth among her conference peers in rebounds per game and fifth in points per game while her 70.1 percent clip at the foul line was ninth-best in the WAC. 

Serving as Tarleton’s “sixth player,” last winter, Escamilla proved to be Tarleton’s leader at both ends of the court in the Texans’ first season at NCAA Division I. She led Tarleton in scoring and rebounding, as she averaged 14.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game for the season. Escamilla also recorded the most 20-point games (3) and double-doubles (5) of any Texan. All three of Escamilla’s 20-point performances came opposite conference competition as did each of her double-doubles. 

Her 24 points scored on Feb. 14 vs. Chicago State in a 61-41 win were the most in a single game by any player and guided Tarleton to its first WAC weekend sweep in school history. Escamilla first eclipsed the 20-point threshold on Feb. 1 at Grand Canyon, racking up 23 points and eight rebounds while matching up with eventual WAC Freshman of the Year Katie Scott. She then closed her junior year by posting double-doubles in three of Tarleton’s final four ballgames, including a 22-point, 10-rebound effort vs. UTRGV on March 5. 

As a team, Tarleton was picked to finish 11th in both the Preseason WAC Media and Coaches’ Polls, ahead of Dixie State and Chicago State. Head coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team or players. 

Reigning WAC regular season and tournament champion California Baptist was chosen as the favorite in both polls. The Lancers received six of a possible 13 first-place votes and 173 points to claim the top spot in the coaches’ poll. Stephen F. Austin claimed the No. 2 slot with 133 points and a half-dozen first place nods. GCU also received a vote to finish first and earned the third-place projection with 112 points.  

Rounding out the rankings in the coaches’ poll were Utah Valley (4th, 106 points), Abilene Christian (5th, 91 points), Sam Houston (6th, 86 points), New Mexico State (7th, 80 points), Lamar (8th, 63 points), Seattle U (9th, 61 points) and UTRGV (10th, 54 points). 

Tarleton closed out the 2020-21 season with wins in five of its final nine ballgames and five victories over WAC foes. Three of the wins in that stretch were against teams projected to finish ahead of Tarleton in the coaches’ poll. 

The Texans took two-of-three meetings from the Vaqueros last winter. Tarleton earned its first true D1 win and victory over a conference foe in a 79-63 win on Jan. 27 in Edinburg in a game that counted as a nonconference affair. The Texans then knocked off UTRGV in its home and season finale on March 6 by a score of 63-52. Tarleton also secured a 62-53 road victory over New Mexico State on Feb. 26 in El Paso.  

Tarleton opens the 2021-22 season on Nov. 10 against No. 19 Arkansas in Fayetteville. The Texans home-opener is set for a 2 p.m. tipoff on Nov. 13 vs. Champion Christian. Conference play begins for Tarleton on Dec. 30 vs. Dixie State. 

Both the Preseason Coaches’ and Media All-WAC teams are listed below. 

2021-22 Preseason Coaches’ All-WAC Teams 

First Team 

Maria Carvalho, Jr., G, Utah Valley 

Amara Graham, Gr., G, Grand Canyon 

Zya Nugent, Jr., G, Stephen F. Austin 

Ane Olaeta, Gr., G, California Baptist 

Britney Thomas, Sr., F, California Baptist 

Stephanie Visscher, Sr., G, Stephen F. Austin 

Josie Williams, Jr., C, Utah Valley 

Micaela Wilson, Gr., F, Lamar 

Second Team

Sara Bershers, So., G, UTRGV 

Tiarra Brown, So., G, Grand Canyon 

Bree Callhoun, Sr., G, Seattle U 

Faith Cook, R-Sr., G, Sam Houston 

Caitlyn Harper, R-So., F, California Baptist 

Aiyana Johnson, Sr., F, Stephen F. Austin 

Madi Miller, Sr., G, Abilene Christian 

McKenzi Williams, R-Sr., G, Seattle U 

Preseason Player of the Year: Ane Olaeta 

2021-22 Preseason Media All-WAC Teams 

First Team

Maria Carvalho, Jr., G, Utah Valley 

Amara Graham, Gr., G, Grand Canyon 

Aiyana Johnson, Sr., F, Stephen F. Austin 

Ane Olaeta, Gr., G, California Baptist 

Britney Thomas, Sr., F, California Baptist 

Stephanie Visscher, Sr., G, Stephen F. Austin 

Josie Williams, Jr., C, Utah Valley 

Micaela Wilson, Gr., F, Lamar 

Second Team 

Tiarra Brown, So., G, Grand Canyon 

Bree Callhoun, Sr., G, Seattle U 

Faith Cook, R-Sr., G, Sam Houston 

Marissa Escamilla, Sr., F, Tarleton 

Caitlyn Harper, R-So., F, California Baptist 

Soufia Inoussa, Jr., G, New Mexico State 

Madi Miller, Sr., G, Abilene Christian 

Zya Nugent, Jr., G, Stephen F. Austin 

Preseason Player of the Year: Ane Olaeta 

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