UNE Comes Into CCC Women’s Basketball Season As Favorite Once Again

UNE Comes Into CCC Women’s Basketball Season As Favorite Once Again



SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Coming off its fourth straight Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Women’s Basketball title, the University of New England was picked to lead the pack once again after earning the top spot in the CCC women’s basketball preseason coaches poll.

UNE received 91 points and six of the possible 10 first place votes that were cast by the league’s head women’s basketball coaches.

Last season, the Nor’easters ran the table in the CCC, compiling a 18-0 (25-4 overall) record in conference play before playing their way through the Conference Tournament to claim the crown for the fourth year in a row.

The Nor’easters earned the right to host first and second round games of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament, but their journey ended early with a 70-60 first-round loss at the hands of Moravian.

Roger Williams was slotted into the second spot in this year’s table with 84 points and one first place vote. The Hawks were one of three teams tied at 13-5 in conference play last year. They ended up seeded third last year’s CCC Tournament due to tiebreakers. They were defeated in the CCC Semifinals by Western New England.

The 2015-16 CCC Tournament runner-up Golden Bears placed third in this year’s poll with 82 points and the three remaining first place votes. WNE also played to a 13-5 (19-11 overall) CCC record and went into the tournament as the No. 2-seed.

Endicott and Salve Regina finished fourth and fifth onthis year’s ledger with 81 and 56 points, respectively.

Eastern Nazarene (50 points), Curry (43), Nichols (22), Wentworth (21), and Gordon (20) closed out this year’s poll in that order.

The CCC women’s basketball season gets going on Nov. 15 with all 10 teams opening their non-conference schedules. The quest for the CCC title begins on Nov. 30 with the start of conference play. The top eight teams in the conference standings at the end of the season will earn entry into the CCC Women’s Basketball Tournament, which starts with the quarterfinals on Tuesday, Feb. 21. The tournament will conclude on Saturday, Feb. 25 with the CCC Championship game. The CCC Tournament Champion will earn the conference’s automatic qualifier into the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament.

Click HERE to view the whole 2016-17 CCC women’s basketball schedule.

 

 

2016 CCC Women's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll

  Team Points (First Place Votes)
1. University of New England 91 (6)
2. Roger Williams
 84 (1)
3. Western New England
 82 (3)
4. Endicott
 81
5. Salve Regina  56
6. Eastern Nazarene  50
7. Curry 43
8. Nichols 22
9. Wentworth 21
10. Gordon 20

 

2016 CCC Women's Basketball Previews

1. University of New England

The University of New England and 10th-year head coach Anthony Ewing return two starters from the four-time reigning CCC Champions. A pair of All-Conference front-line players, in senior center Alicia Brown (Greenland, N.H.) (14.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.0 bpg) and junior forward Olivia Shaw (Saco, Maine) (9.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg), will be joined by a large group of new guards, as well as the experience of senior guard Lindsey Howland (New Braintree, Mass.) and junior guard Sam MacDonald (Lebanon, N.H.).

 
Alicia Brown, UNE

2. Roger Williams

The Roger Williams University Women’s Basketball team saw its 2015-16 campaign end prematurely in the CCC Semifinals, falling to the No. 2 seed Western New England. The Hawks finished the year at 17-10 overall and third in the conference. This year, Roger Williams looks to recapture the magic from three seasons ago, when the team made a trip to the CCC Championship Game and earned a berth to the NCAA Tournament.

The Hawks lose two seniors to graduation; Rachel Battista, who finished the year second in the CCC with 47 made three-pointers, and 2016 All-CCC First Team selection Angelica Ariola, the third-leading scorer in RWU Women’s Basketball history. To make up for their loss, head coach Kelly Thompson has brought in six recruits that should make an immediate impact on the team. In addition, the Hawks return nine members of last year’s team, including 2016 All-CCC Second Team selection senior Bridget Quilty (Duxbury, Mass.) and 2016 All-CCC Third Team selection senior Katie Lowerre (Sharon, Mass.).

 

 
Bridget Quilty, RWU

3. Western New England

Western New England is coming off its most successful season in a decade, as the Golden Bears went 19-11 and posted runner-up finishes in both the CCC Tournament and ECAC New England Championship in 2015-16. Despite losing CCC Player of the Year Chelsea Vujs to graduation, 12thyear head coach Nicole Chaszar returns four of her top five leading scorers from a season ago.

Junior guard Dorothy O’Neill (Staten Island, N.Y.), a two-time All-CCC selection, is back to lead the offense after averaging 9.8 points and 3.8 assists per game last season, while senior forward Emily Anderson (Rocky Hill, Conn.), an All-CCC second team honoree, provided both scoring (12.3 PPG) and rebounding (3.7 RPG) during her junior campaign. Western New England also returns seniors Sammie Battaini (Leominster, Mass.), Sammie Olson (Tolland, Conn.) and Paige Young (Berlin, Conn.).

The Golden Bears open their 2016-17 season next Tuesday night at home with a non-conference matchup against crosstown rival Springfield College. Western New England kicks off the CCC portion of its schedule at Salve Regina on Nov. 30.

 

  
Dorothy O'Neill, WNE


4. Endicott

Coming off a 2015-16 season that saw the Endicott women’s basketball team make its fifth-straight Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Semifinals appearance, the Gulls look to build upon the recent success of the team. Head coach Brittany Hutchinson is in her sixth year at the helm of a program that returns a handful of starters and brought in a talented crop of new faces. The Gulls' key returners include a 2015-16 CCC Third Teamer in junior forward Hannah Shaw (Bar Harbor, Maine). Shaw appeared in all 29 games and was a key contributor off the bench, scoring 306 points that was second-best on the team and was third with 162 rebounds. Senior forward Sarah Hood (Burlington, Conn.) is back for her final season and led the team with 71 offensive rebounds a year agoOther players to watch include juniors Sam Charette (Wenham, Mass.), Hannah Kiernan (Wenham, Mass.) and Gabriella Coppola (Watertown, Mass.). Coppola started all 29 of the Gulls’ games last season at point guard and ranked second on the program’s all-time list for assists in a single season with 135. The Gulls' 2016-17 campaign begins Tuesday, Nov. 15 on the road at MIT at 7 p.m.

 

     Hannah Shaw, EC

5. Salve Regina

Salve Regina University women’s basketball graduated its all-time leading scorer and four-time First Team All-Conference guard in Meaghan Harden, who led the league in points per game last season (17.1 ppg). Head coach Cori Hughes believes having so many freshmen last season playing important roles will pay dividends for 2016-17. 

Team offense and team defense will be on display without a “superstar” as the Seahawks rely on each other including several key returnees with starting experience – senior Jillian Woodward (Orono, Maine), juniors Mary Eden (So. Kingstown, R.I.) and Allyson Esielionis (Shirley, Mass.), and sophomores Kerri Beland (Attleboro, Mass.) and Tara Burke (Georgetown, Mass.). 

“(Eden) played very well in the first scrimmage,” Hughes said. “She’s always been a very good shooter, always been a crafty defender; she’s always been a kid that hustles all the time, but what I saw in the scrimmage was good decision making.” 

 

 
Jillian Woodward, SRU

6. Eastern Nazarene

Led by sixth-year head coach Sacha Santimano, the Lions return just three veterans from last season's squad. Seniors BreAnna Fraser (Henderson, Nev.) and Jessica Franco (Phoenix, Ariz.) along with junior Jaysa Cooper (Frisco, Texas) will be relied upon for their experience and leadership as the lone returners.

Eastern Nazarene posted a 14-12 overall record with a 9-9 mark in the Commonwealth Coast Conference a year ago. The Lions are looking to reach the Commonwealth Coast Conference Tournament for the fifth time in the past six seasons.

 

 
Jaysa Cooper, ENC

7. Curry

Curry returns five players including one senior and the reigning CCC Rookie of the Year in sophomore Emily Irwin (Billerica, Mass.) under head coach Fran Elms, as he enters his 13th season at the helm. Irwin led the 2015-16 squad in scoring at 11.1 points per game. The Colonels will also welcome seven talented freshmen to complete this year’s roster. The first of two captains on this year's squad, Amanda Gresian (Douglas, Mass.) is an excellent leader on and off the court and the team is hoping Amanda can also contribute in the post this season. Junior Nicole Rice (Woburn, Mass.) will also be a captain on this year's team. She will need to step up her minutes this year and take the lead in the post. With her 6'3" size, she should be able to control the boards offensively and defensively. Her outside shooting abilities will also be depended on. At the guard position Curry will look to freshmen Sam Bamford (Easton, Mass.), Lovashia Rosario (Worcester, Mass.), Paige Senatore (Ayer, Mass.), and junior Stephanie Rizzo ( East Boston, Mass.). The forward spot will feature three freshmen: Erica Ulrich (Westminster, Mass.), Zoe Gallishaw (Springfield Gardens, N.Y.) and Caroline Kilduff (Rockland, Mass.). Sophomore wing player Molly Plunkett (Quincy, Mass.) will see time at both the guard and forward positions. Junior Meaghan Fitzgerald (Sandwich, Mass.) will also provide depth at the forward spot. Curry will look to improve upon their 12-14 overall record and 9-9 mark in the CCC. 

 

 
Emily Irwin, CC

8. Nichols

Senior Taylor Daniels (Dudley, Mass.) (12.0 ppg in 2015-16) hopes to lead the Bison into the playoffs for the second-consecutive season. Sophomore Amy Assad (Millis, Mass.) is back for her first full season in Dudley after averaging 7.3 ppg and 5.9 rpg in the second half of the season last year. Juniors Allison Cerrato (Rockland, Mass.) (6.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and Brooke Packard (Dudley, Mass.) ( 6.3 ppg, 44 steals) are expected to be key contributors for head coach Alice Mullen.

 

 
Taylor Daniels, NC

9. Wentworth

After narrowly missing out on a trip to the Commonwealth Coast Conference playoffs a season ago and graduating its top three scorers, the Wentworth Institute of Technology women’s basketball team will rely on a mixture of veterans and a talented recruiting class in hopes of returning to the postseason. Leading the group of returners is junior Haley Sabino (Topsfield, Mass.), who is coming off a sophomore season which saw her average 6.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Kellie Messer (Hollis, N.H.), the lone senior on the Leopards this season, averaged 3.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game as a junior. Junior Courtney McCormick (Hanson, Mass.) returns for the Black & Gold after averaging 2.6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game as a sophomore.

 

 
Kellie Messer, WIT

10. Gordon

Gordon turns to Carter Shaw to take the reins of program after just missing out on the playoffs last season. The Fighting Scots are young for the second straight year, with only three upperclassmen on the roster. Still, Gordon returns its top five offensive options from last year, led by junior Kristen Smith (Littleton, Mass.) who averaged nine points and five boards. Junior Sophie Linnell (Richmond, Va.) also returns as one of the better rebounders in the conference, while a handful of talented sophomores will be asked to take the next step in leading the program. 

  
Kristen Smith, GC


Season previews contributed by each school's sports information department.

 

ABOUT THE COMMONWEALTH COAST CONFERENCE

The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), founded in 1984, is an NCAA Division III athletic conference comprised of ten full member and three associate member institutions throughout the New England region. Its membership aims to provide student-athletes with a positive experience in their pursuit of excellence through high academic standards, quality competition, and a meaningful student life. The conference currently administers championships in 16 intercollegiate sports with that number set to increase next year with the addition of football. 

 

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