Women’s Basketball hosts Colorado Mines in season opener

Photo by Todd Paris

Jamie Foland

Fairbanks, Alaska – The Alaska women’s basketball team will open the 2012-13 season this weekend when it plays host to Colorado School of Mines on Saturday night at 7 p.m. inside the Patty Center.

“We’re super anxious for this Saturday’s home game,” head coach Cody Burgess said. “Colorado School of Mines will come ready after playing in Anchorage. It’s been four hard weeks of practice and about six weeks of conditioning, so it’s a great opportunity for us to come out and show our fans and ourselves what we’re going to be this year.”

Burgess is entering her third year at the helm of the women’s program and despite losing a pair of key starters from last year’s 6-22 team, she brought in plenty of experience players from junior colleges that will have immediate impacts.

“It’s definitely a new team with a new feel but with our returners and veterans knowing my expectations both on and off the court, it helps to bring in players with experience,” Burgess said. “Having this many people hasn’t let anyone take a day off in practice or in weights and conditioning. Everyone’s competing for that playing time and it’s precious to them.”

Back this season are seniors Taylor Altenburg (Elko, Nev.) and Jacqueline Lovato (Gunnison, Colo.), juniors Marissa Atoruk (Kiana, Alaska) and Emily Johnson (Juneau, Alaska) and sophomores Benissa Bulaya (Sacramento, Calif.) and Kelly Logue (Fair Oaks, Calif.).

The returning players combined for 64 starts last season and the Nanooks return 36-percent of the team’s scoring and 35-percent of rebounding from the 2011-12 campaign. Of the 12 newcomers this year, eight are transfers with college playing experience.

Game #1: Colorado School of Mines at Alaska – Saturday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. (AKST)
The Orediggers open their season Friday night against Alaska’s GNAC rival Alaska Anchorage, which is ranked No. 22 in the preseason media poll. CSM returns four starters from last year’s 12-17 team (11-11 RMAC), including Angie Charchalis, who was a First Team All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference honoree a year ago.

Colorado Mines, which was selected ninth in the 14-team RMAC, played one exhibition against Division-1’s Colorado State and fell 61-48. It did win the rebounding war against the Rams, 51-39 and limited CSU to just 36.5-percent shooting.

Saturday’s match-up will be the fifth meeting all-time and first since 1996 between the programs with Mines leading 3-1.