PORTLAND, Ore. – Defending champion Alaska Anchorage has been picked to finish fifth in the 2012-13 Great Northwest Athletic Conference women’s basketball title chase, according to the league’s 12th annual coaches’ poll, released Thursday.

The Seawolves – coming off a 30-5 season and an NCAA Elite Eight berth – also landed a pair of players on the league’s inaugural Preseason All-GNAC Team, with seniors Alysa Horn and Sasha King gaining unanimous recognition.

Western Washington, which finished runner-up to UAA a year ago, was picked to win the league with seven of 10 first-place votes, narrowly outpointing Simon Fraser, 96-93. Seattle Pacific was third with 76 points, followed by Montana State Billings in fourth (63), UAA in fifth (57) and Northwest Nazarene in sixth (56).

UAA’s lone returning starter from 2011-12, King led her team and ranked in the GNAC’s top three in assists (4.6 apg), steals (2.3 spg) and three-point percentage (.411). The 5-6 point guard from Norman, Okla. (Norman HS/Hutchinson [Kan.] CC) also made the All-Tournament Team at last year’s West Regional Championships after helping UAA to the title.

Horn, a 6-0 forward from Kodiak, earned All-GNAC honorable mention honors last year when she averaged 9.0 points and 5.0 rebounds despite coming off the bench in all 35 games. The fifth-year senior was an All-GNAC Second Team pick as a sophomore and enters 2012-13 needing 282 points to reach 1,000 for her career.

First-year head coach Ryan McCarthy’s squad also returns key reserves in Kylie Burns (4.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.0 apg, 15.1 mpg), Alli Madison (1.2 ppg, 4.6 mpg) and Jordan Martin (1.0 ppg, 3.7 mpg) as its aims for the program’s seventh straight NCAA Tournament berth.

UAA begins with a Nov. 4 exhibition game at Division I foe Arizona State before returning home to open the regular season Nov. 9 against Colorado School of Mines.

2012-13 GNAC Coaches Poll   2011-12 Recs., Pl.  Pts   
 1. Western Washington (7)  22-8 (14-4,, 2nd)   96
 2. Simon Fraser (3)        17-11 (11-7, 3rd-T) 93
 3. Seattle Pacific         17-10 (11-7, 3rd-T) 76
 4. Montana State Billings  18-12 (10-8, 6th)   63
 5. Alaska Anchorage        30-5 (16-2, 1st)    57
 6. Northwest Nazarene      18-10 (11-7, 3rd-T) 56
 7. Central Washington      9-17 (5-13, 8th)    47
 8. Western Oregon          7-21 (6-12, 7th)    30
 9. Saint Martin’s          9-19 (4-14, 9th)    18
10. Alaska Fairbanks        6-22 (2-16, 10th)   14
Note: First-place votes in parenthesis.  Points awarded on 11-9-8-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.

*Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe, Simon Fraser (C, 6-3, Sr., Vernon, BC)
*Bobby Knudsen, MSU Billings (G, 5-8, Jr., Malta, MT)
*Katie Benson, Seattle Pacific (F, 6-2, Jr., Snohomish, WA)
*Alysa Horn, Alaska Anchorage (F, 6-0, Sr., Kodiak, AK)
*Megan Hingston, Northwest Nazarene (F, 5-9, Jr., Keizer, OR)
*Corinn Waltrip, Western Washington (G, 5-6, Sr., Beaverton, OR)
*Brit Harris, Western Washington (C, 6-2, Sr., Marysville, WA)
*Sasha King, Alaska Anchorage (G, 5-6, Sr., Norman, OK)
*Jessica VanDyke, Central Washington (G, 5-9, Jr., Chester, MT)
Kristina Collins, Simon Fraser (G, 5-10, Sr., Port Coquitlam, BC)
Rachel Murray, Seattle Pacific (F, 5-9, Sr., New South Wales)
Trishi Williams, Western Washington (G/F, 5-9, Sr., Mabton, WA)
Chelsea Haskey, Saint Martin’s (G/F, 6-1, Jr., Olympia, WA)
Erin Chambers, Simon Fraser (F, 6-1, So., Mission, BC)
Chelsie Luke, Northwest Nazarene (G, 5-9, Jr., Meridian, ID)