SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The University of New England, six-time defending Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Women's Basketball Tournament Champions, were picked it the top spot once again in the preseason coaches' poll and will begin the year as the preseason favorite.
The Nor'easters earned 80 points during this year's voting, including eight of a possible nine first place votes cast by the league's head women's basketball coaches.
UNE went 16-2 (23-6 overall) to claim the CCC regular-season crown a year ago. It was the top seed in the CCC Championship Tournament and defeated No. 8 seed Eastern Nazarene, No. 4 seed Western New England, and No. 2 seed Roger Williams en rout to the title. The Nor'easters participated in the NCAA Tournament as the CCC's automatic qualifier and dropped a 76-63 decision to RIT in the first round.
Western New England was picked second in this year's poll claiming 65 points and the final first place vote.
Roger Williams followed close behind WNE with 65 points for the No. 3 spot. Last year the Hawks were the CCC Tournament Runner-up and earned an NCAA at-large selection. They played Emory and Henry in the NCAA first round and took a 66-55 loss.
The other 2018 CCC tournament semifinalist, Endicott, was picked fourth in the poll with 59 points followed by Salve Regina, which earned 43 points.
The final four teams in the poll were Curry (33 points), Gordon (30), Nichols (19), and Wentworth (10) In that order.
Salve Regina head coach Cori Hughes enters her 12th season at the helm with a deep senior class. Five Seahawks will graduate in 2019 and will help lead women's basketball back to a conference championship. Seniors Lauryn Becker (Hanover, Mass.), Kerri Beland (Attleboro, Mass.), Tara Burke (Londonderry, N.H.), Liv Pierce (Tyngsboro, Mass.), and Mikayla Roderick (New Bedford, Mass.) could comprise a starting five, but Hughes also has talented junior and two-time All-CCC guard Torie Scorpio (Cranston, R.I.) who was the league's rookie of the year in 2017. Noelle Mancini (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.), Brooke Meredith (Plymouth, Mass.), and Dani Oddo (Cross River, N.Y.) arrive as newcomers for Hughes's 2018-19 squad.
"I am looking forward to another competitive year of CCC women's basketball; every team poses a threat and every game promises to be a battle! I think our senior leadership coupled with our talented youth will be a winning combination for the Seahawks this season."
The women's basketball season begins on Thursday, Nov. 8 with one CCC team in action. Conference play begins on Wednesday, Nov. 28 with four CCC matchups. With only nine teams competing, the CCC Tournament takes on a new look with only seven teams qualifying this year. The top seed will receive a bye, while the six other teams play quarterfinal round matchups on Tuesday, Feb. 19. The semifinal round will take place on Thursday, Feb. 21, followed by the CCC Tournament Championship game on Saturday, Feb. 23. The winner of that game will be named the CCC Tournament Champion and will earn the conference's automatic qualifier in to the 2019 NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championship.