Women's Basketball Picked to Win in NAC Preseason Coaches' Poll

Women's Basketball Picked to Win in NAC Preseason Coaches' Poll

WATERVILLE, Maine - Husson University sits atop the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Women's Basketball preseason coaches' poll with 61 points and five first-place votes. Maine Maritime Academy follows closely with 59 points and the remaining 3 first-place votes. The two programs combined to grab all first and second place votes heading into the season.

Northern Vermont University-Lyndon totaled 36 points for third place, leading a tightly packed middle of the poll. Thomas College tallied 34 points for fourth place, UMaine-Farmingtonhas 32 for fifth, and SUNY Canton has 31 points and sits in sixth place.

Northern Vermont University-Johnson (21) and UMaine-Presque Isle (14) round out the poll conducted by the NAC women's basketball head coaches.

If the prediction holds, Husson will win their fourth NAC Women's Basketball championship in a row. The Eagles went into the 2017-18 NAC tournament with a No. 3 seed and upset No. 2 Colby-Sawyer in the semifinal round before winning the championship game 76-58 over Maine Maritime. Maine Maritime last won the NAC championship in 2004 and hopes to reclaim the title after a runner up finish in 2018.

The 2018-19 tournament field promises to look different with the departure of Castleton, Green Mountain, Colby-Sawyer and New England College; and the entry of SUNY Canton and UMaine-Presque Isle into the league. Six teams will qualify for the NAC tournament in 2019 and the champion will earn an automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA DIII Women's Basketball Championship.

 

2018-19 Women's Basketball Preview

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1. Husson - 61 (5 first place votes)

Husson (19-10, 14-4 NAC) is led by head coach Kissy Walker, entering her 15th-straight season and 28th overall at the helm of the Eagles. The Eagles seek their fourth consecutive NAC Title with the return of three-time All-Conference selection senior guard Kenzie Worcester (Washburn, Maine), 2018 Second Team All-NAC choice junior forward Sami Ireland (Howland, Maine), junior guard/forward Joan Overman (Washburn, Maine), sophomore guard Emma Alley (Millinocket, Maine) and sophomore forward/center Megan Peach (Garland, Maine). Newcomers looking to make an early impact on the season include freshman guard Sydney Allen (Corinth, Maine), freshman guard Vanessa Duarte (Hawthorne, N.Y.), and freshman guard Emily Wheaton (Mapleton, Maine). The Eagles will take on Saint Benedict - ranked in the top 10 nationally last season - and three teams that are currently ranked in the d3hoops.com preseason top 25, featuring #2 Bowdoin (2018 NCAA National Runner-Up), #7 Chicago, and #17 Saint Joseph's (Maine) to prepare for a tough conference schedule.

   

2. Maine Maritime Academy - 59 (3 first place votes)

Craig Dagan returns for his 18th season as Head Coach of the Mariners (20-8, 13-5 NAC). The Mariners return all three of their top scorers from last season, including First Team All-Conference selection Alayne Felix (Mahopac, N.Y.), who returns for her senior season after leading the Mariners with 16.2 points per game and ranking among the top conference players in a number of statistical categories. The Mariners have a competitive non-conference schedule including games against Bowdoin and Amherst, the two teams who appeared in the DIII Championship game in 2018. With a new group of talented freshmen and no roster losses to graduation, the Mariners prepare to return to the NAC Championship game.

   

3. Northern Vermont-Lyndon - 36

The Hornets (14-12, 10-8 NAC) return to the hardwood after their best season since becoming an NCAA Division III program and joining the NAC. Third year head coach Sean Lynch returns to guide this year's team, which will have a much different feel and several new faces. The Hornets will be led by returning players senior guard Tori Carlson (4.8 points and 2.9 assists per game), junior forward Alissa Mitchell (8.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game), and sophomore center Alisha Celley (5.0 points and 5.2 rebounds per game). Promising newcomers include transfers Ellie Harrington (Fareham, Hampshire, UK) and Rylee Moore (Livermore, Maine), and freshman guard Lea Crompton (Dunbarton, N.H.). NVU-Lyndon expects to contend for conference honors again this season.

   

4. Thomas - 34

Thomas (9-16, 6-12 NAC) Head Coach Emily Cummins enters her fifth season leading the Terriers. Thomas returns many key contributors from a season ago, including senior guard Molly Carroll (Southwest Harbor, Maine), juniors Karli Stubbs (forward/Auburn, Maine) and Malorie Weaver (center/Palermo, Maine) and sophomore forward Addie Brinkman (Farmington, Maine). The Terriers also welcome eight newcomers, including six freshmen, who will provide depth and contribute to the team's structure of play. Thomas is optimistic for the season, with a balanced team with strong chemistry that will be more dimensional on both ends of the court and play at a faster pace this year.

 
   

5. UMaine-Farmington - 32

Jamie Beaudoin returns to the reins as a veteran head coach at UMaine-Farmington (7-18, 4-14 NAC). Sophomore McKenna Brodeur (Oakland, Maine) returns for the Beavers after leading the team in points per game with 12.5 last season. Morgan Crocker (Boothbay, Maine) was just behind Brodeur with 12.4 points per game and returns for her senior year. Senior Paige Carter (South Portland, Maine) will continue to be a rebound getter, and juniors Emilee Eustis (Wilton, Maine) and Sara Lamb (Topsham, Maine) will run the point. Senior guard Haley Felkel (Cumberland, Maine) aims to get hot from behind the arc after shooting 27.5% a season ago. The Beavers will pursue a playoff run this year with key returners and new players coming into the program.

   

6. SUNY Canton - 31

The NAC welcomes the SUNY Canton women's basketball program (12-14) and first year head coach Josh Ward to the conference this year. The Roos return 2017-18 leading scorer, sophomore guard Antanasia Chambers (Manhattan, NY). As a rookie she paced Canton with 15.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Forward Billie Rivenburgh (Frankfort, NY) also returns following a freshman season that saw her lead the team with 6.5 rebounds per game. Coach Ward expects contributions across the board from his eight newcomers, especially junior transfer Breanna Cullers (Salinas, CA) at guard and freshman forward Jasmine Gonzalez (Gloversville, NY).

   

7. Northern Vermont-Johnson - 21

The Northern Vermont University-Johnson women's basketball team (3-22, 2-16 NAC) finished the 2017-2018 season playing some of their best basketball and had a spirited off-season preparing for the 2018-2019 season. The Badgers return ten players from last season's roster and have added five newcomers. Only losing one senior has provided the Badgers with consistency in the program which Head Coach Greg Eckman and the team will build on. Kaitlyn Brouard (Milton, Vt.) returns to the Badgers for her senior season at the guard position. Gina Castanada (Carson, Calif.) returns to the hardwood after a season-ending injury last year and will bring a veteran presence and vision to the court. Senior and second year player Emily Marshall (Malone, N.Y.) returns as a point guard, and senior forward Mariah Ramos (Lebanon, N.H.) will also be an offensive and defensive threat. Fellow senior Mary Richardson (Vernon, Vt.) will be a long-range threat for the Badgers. Juniors Linsey LaPerle (Bethel, Vt.) and Christle Page (Ryegate, Vt.), and sophomores Devin Libby (Burlington, Vt.), Jocelyn Pellerin (Keene, N.H.), Ellery Kiefer (Wayland, Mass.) will also be key contributors. Five new additions will add depth for the Badgers this season.

   

8. UMaine-Presque Isle - 14

The UMPI Owls (3-19) are entering their first season in the NAC and return several key players from last year's team, along with the addition of two freshmen who will contribute right away. The Owls struggled with injury last year and envision a healthier and more productive season ahead. Second year head coach Gavin Kane welcomes back 6'1" junior center Rhylee Wright (Frenchville, Maine) who averaged 13.9 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last year. The Owls also return starters Emmy Churchill (Washburn, Maine), who chipped in 6.9 points per game, as well as sophomores Marissa Reagle (Seattle, Wash.) with 5.0 points per game, and sophomore Kendra Silvers (North Berwick, Maine) with 5.4 points per game. The Owls are on the hunt for an upset season.