Amanda Forshay is the face of University of Puget Sound women’s basketball. As a senior and the player with the best all-around skill set, she is deserving of that nod.
Katy Ainslie is one of those rare commodities in the Northwest Conference — a consistently productive post player. Her hard work has not only made her a team favorite, but an able No. 2 scoring option.
So who is No. 3?
That was the big question coming into the season — one that welcomed a share of candidates.
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But as the Loggers (20-3) head into the final weekend of the conference season with an opportunity to wrap up a home playoff game if they can sweep Whitman and Whitworth, that issue has been solved.
It is junior Emily Sheldon.
And not only has she emerged as a reliable complement to her higher-profile teammates, an argument can be made she has been the best scorer in the conference in the second half of the league season.
Over the past 10 games, Sheldon has averaged 18.3 points per game — which has thrust her to the top of the team’s overall scoring this season at 13.7 points per game. She has been the Loggers’ leading scorer in seven of those games.
She has four 20-point games, including a career-high 33-point showing at Pacific. Prior to that, she’d only had three 20-point scoring games in her career.
During that span she has shooting 45.2 percent from the floor (66 of 146) and made 15 3-pointers.
“In our program, we ride the hot hand,” UPS coach Loree Payne said. “Fortunately for us, she has felt it.”
At the outset of the Loggers’ most brutal stretch on the schedule — seven of the past nine games were on the road — Payne was looking for a stabilizing force to keep UPS rolling along, staying in the thick of the NWC championship hunt.
It became the Sheldon sizzle.
“In years past, I have been more focused on what my teammates need and how I can get them looks,” said Sheldon, the 5-foot-11 forward from Lincoln High School in Portland.
“In high school, I was the point guard. Now I am a (power forward). I just have always been whatever the team has needed — and now they have needed somebody to score.”
Sheldon plays both forward positions, which means her shot selections vary between two distinct areas of the floor.
In a way, it has helped that much of Sheldon’s current run of success has been on midrange pull-up jumpers closer to the basket.
“Early on, she was really relying on shooting the (3-pointer), and she tried over and over to get it to fall,” Payne said. “But recently she has realized being a (small forward), I can get into the flow a little bit better if I get inside. She has expanded her game to being more than one-dimensional.”
It isn’t difficult to see the type of super athlete Sheldon is. She played soccer, volleyball, basketball and finally track and field in high school.
That level of athletic ability carries throughout her family: Her older brother, Matt, is a professional soccer player. Her younger brother, Michael, is a walk-on at the University of San Diego for soccer.
Initially, Sheldon wanted to focus strictly on basketball and sign with an NCAA Division I program. Not getting the offers she expected, instead she took a recruiting visit to UPS — the college her mother, Laura, attended.
Not only has she started nearly every game at UPS since her freshman year, she is the women track team’s top multievent performer in the heptathlon.
Sheldon was also selected to be a member of the 2015 USA Division III women’s basketball team that will tour Brazil for nine days in July, playing some of that country’s best under-22 amateur and professional squads.
“It’s been (good) to see Emily so aggressive,” Payne said. “Right now she wants to be our go-to scorer. And she is confident in what she is doing.”