UNE Selected as CCC Women’s Basketball Favorite Seeking Sixth Straight Title

UNE Selected as CCC Women’s Basketball Favorite Seeking Sixth Straight Title

2017-18 CCC Women's Basketball Preseason Poll Video

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Five-time defending Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Women’s Basketball Tournament Champion the University of New England was predicted to continue the streak in the 2017 CCC Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The Nor’easters earned seven of the 10 first place votes and 94 points for the top spot.

Voting was conducted by the 10 CCC women’s basketball head coaches last week.

UNE went into last year’s CCC Championship Tournament as the No. 1 seed for the sixth straight year after going 16-2 (23-6 overall) in conference play. In the tournament the Nor’easters defeated No. 8 seed Gordon, No. 5 seed Eastern Nazarene, and No. 3 seed Western New England to capture the title.

In the NCAA Tournament, the CCC Tournament Champions lost a heartbreaker to Scanton as the Royals hit a three-pointer in the final seconds to eliminate UNE, 49-48, in the First Round.

Roger Williams, a CCC Semifinalist last year ranked second in the poll garnering 88 points and one first place vote. The remaining two first place votes went to Endicott, which earned 83 points to claim the No. 3 spot in the poll.

Last year’s CCC Tournament runner-up, Western New England, finished fourth in the voting with 72 points, while Salve Regina rounded out the top five with 56 points.

Eastern Nazarene (48 points), Gordon (37), Curry (36), Nichols (24), and Wentworth (12) make up the bottom half the table in that order.

The women’s basketball season starts up on Wednesday, Nov. 15 with eight conference teams facing non-conference opponents. The Conference schedule begins on Wednesday, Nov. 29. The top eight teams in the 2017-18 regular-season conference standings will qualify for the CCC Tournament, which starts with the quarterfinals on Tuesday, Feb. 20 and concludes with the Conference Championship on Saturday, Feb. 24. The CCC Tournament Champion will earn the conference’s automatic qualifier into the 2018 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship.

Click HERE to view the whole 2017-18 CCC women’s basketball schedule.

 

2017-18 CCC Women's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll

  Team Points (First Place Votes)
1. University of New England 94 (7)
2. Roger Williams 88 (1)
3. Endicott 83 (2)
4. Western New England 72
5. Salve Regina 56
6. Eastern Nazarene 48
7. Gordon 37
8. Curry 36
9. Nichols 24
10. Wentworth 12

 

2017-18 CCC Women's Basketball Previews

 

 

1. University of New England

The University of New England and 11th-year head coach Anthony Ewing and the Nor'easters will be striving for a sixth straight CCC championship in 2017-18. Past All-Conference performers and seniors Sam MacDonald (Lebanon, N.H.) and Olivia Shaw (Saco, Maine), along with sophomore Jocelyn Chaput (Nashua, N.H.), are the returning starters from last season's group that posted a 16-2 mark in league action.

   Sam MacDonald, UNE

2. Roger Williams

The Women’s Basketball team persevered through the loss of a number of players halfway through the year and still logged another strong season. Over the course of the year, the Hawks set a new program record, winning 11 consecutive games. The team earned the No. 2 seed in the CCC Tournament, advancing to the CCC Semifinals and finishing the year with an overall record of 19-8, tying for the second-most single-season wins in program history.

Head coach Kelly Thompson brought in six new players this season after graduating two key seniors. The team is still filled with veterans and is returning two All-CCC team members. Senior Mariah Nicholas (Acushnet, Mass.) earned an All-CCC Second Team honor after averaging 9.3 points per game and 5.3 rebounds. Also returning from the All-CCC Second Team is senior Anna Walther (Northampton, Mass.). Walther last season was an offensive threat averaging 10.8 points per game ranking her second on the team and 11th in the conference.

  Anna Walther, RWU

3. Endicott

With a strong core of senior leadership returning to the fold in 2017-18, the Endicott women's basketball team will look to make another deep run in the CCC Playoffs. The Gulls will be led by seniors Gabriella Coppola (Watertown, Mass.), Hannah Shaw (Bar Harbor, Maine), Sam Charette (Wenham, Mass.), and Hannah Kiernan (Wenham, Mass.)Shaw (14.4 ppg), Kiernan (10.9 ppg), and Coppola (8.7 ppg) all averaged over 8.5 points per game last season, while Charette played a pivotal role off the bench offensively and defensively for the Gulls a season ago. Endicott also returns sophomore Emily Pratt (Gardner, Mass.) and her 8.8 points per game alongside a strong recruiting class brought in from seventh-year head coach Brittany Hutchinson. The Gulls begin their 2017-18 season against Bridgewater State University in the Cave Classic on Friday, Nov. 17 at 5:30 p.m.

   Gabriella Coppola, EC

 

4.  Western New England

The Golden Bears will be seeking their third consecutive trip to the CCC Tournament Championship game this season after posting consecutive runner-up finishes in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

Western New England will be led by senior point guard Dorothy O'Neill (Staten Island, N.Y.), a two-year captain and three-time All-CCC performer with career averages of 10.1 points, 3.2 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game. After losing four of their top five leading scorers from a season ago, the Golden Bears will look to sophomore forward Meghan Orbann (East Hampton, Conn.) to take on an expanded role on offense. Junior guard Meghan Gilhool (Montrose, Pa.), who led the CCC with a 2.50 assist/turnover ratio last season, will also be a key contributor for Western New England.

The Golden Bears open their 2017-18 campaign on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at crosstown rival Springfield College, before returning home to host MCLA on Saturday, Nov. 18. CCC play gets underway on Wednesday, Nov. 29, when the Golden Bears welcome Roger Williams to the Alumni Healthful Living Center.

   Dorothy O'Neill, WNE

5. Salve Regina

Salve Regina University women’s basketball head coach Cori Hughes believes her team is ready to bounce back from consecutive 10-16 seasons and contend for a conference championship.

She returns the league’s Rookie of the Year in second-year guard Torie Scorpio (Cranston, R.I.) who started all 26 games as a freshman and led the Seahawks in points per game (12.5) while ranking second in minutes per game (36.3). Seniors Mary Eden (South Kingstown, R.I.) and Ally Esielionis (Shirley, Mass.) will be making an impact as fourth-year players. “(Eden) has matured as a reliable and dynamic playmaker, always ready to take a charge,” says Hughes. “(Esielionis) is long and strong, and unafraid to bang in the post while also capable of ball handling.”

The 5-foot, 5-inch Eden led the Seahawks in rebounding as a junior (169; 6.8 rpg).

The two seniors will serve as captains along with a pair of juniors – Kerri Beland (Attleboro, Mass.) and Liv Pierce (Tyngsboro, Mass.). Beland led the Seahawks in minutes per game (36.4) while ranking second in points per game (12.3). “(Pierce) brings so much energy to our team,” remarks Hughes.

   Mary Eden, SRU

6. Eastern Nazarene

Led by seventh-year head coach Sacha Santimano, Eastern Nazarene returns eight veterans from last season's squad. Senior Shelby Holmes (Seeley Lake, Mont.) is the team's top returning scorer after averaging 9.0 points per game a year ago while classmate Kayla Torio (Manteca, Calif.) added 8.2 points per contest and paced the squad with 6.9 rebounds per game. Eastern Nazarene tips off its 55th season of competition Nov. 15 at home against non-conference foe Dean in the first-ever matchup between two schools in program history. The Lions will be looking to reach the CCC Tournament for the sixth time in the past seven seasons.

 
Shelby Holmes, ENC

7. Gordon

Gordon returns its top five scorers from last season including junior guard Meghan Foley (Malden, Mass.) who averaged 13.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game. Foley finished the season ranked sixth in the CCC in scoring average and eighth in assists per game. Junior guard Brooke Dyson (Houston, Texas) was second on the team in scoring as she averaged 8.0 points and 2.9 rebounds a game. Sophomore guard Alisha Henderson (Oregon City, Ore.) averaged 7.9 points per game and led the team with 36 three-pointers which tied her for sixth in the CCC. The Fighting Scots’ leading rebounder sophomore forward Sarah Gibbs (Elizabethtown, Pa.) is also back as she was ranked fourth in the CCC with 7.5 rebounds per game.

The Fighting Scots open the season on the road at Emerson Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. They will host the Gordon Classic for the 11th season and they will play Manhattanville Nov. 17 and Elms Nov. 18. They open CCC play on the road at the University of New England Nov. 29 and will host Curry for their CCC home opener Dec. 5. 

 
Meghan Foley, GC

8. Curry

Curry returns seven student-athletes from last season, highlighted by 2016-17 All-CCC First Team selection Emily Irwin (Billerica, Mass.). Irwin led the CCC in points per game (16.7), steals per game (4.4) and ranked second in the league in assists per game with 3.4 per game. The Colonels top returners are all starters from a year ago: Irwin, Sam Bamford (North Easton, Mass.) Molly Plunkett (Quincy, Mass.) and Nicole Rice (Woburn, Mass.) and will look to these individuals for leadership. The Colonels will also welcome in seven freshmen, two of which were the MVPs of their respective high school leagues in Taylor McNair (Oxford, Conn.) and Gina Coote (Dedham, Mass.). In addition to those two, they will also look to Janee Walker (Pittsfield, Mass.), Maeve Foley (Wethersfield, Conn.), Olivia Phillippi (Kingston, R.I.), Kristi Francini (Coventry, Conn.) and Mare Desmornes (Waltham, Mass.) to provide depth in the front and back court. The 2017-18 roster is completed with senior Stephanie Rizzo (East Boston, Mass.) and sophomores Erica Ulrich (Westminster, Mass.) and Caroline Kilduff (Rockland, Mass.).

 
Emily Irwin, CC

9. Nichols

MaryLynn Skarzenski ’09 returns to Nichols and the CCC this time as a head coach and she inherits a team that is looking to improve upon only a two-win season from last year. Since becoming a head coach in 2011, Skarzenski has averaged 15 wins per season at her previous two stops of Daniel Webster College and Mitchell College.

On the floor, the Bison will have to overcome the loss of their team-leader in Taylor Daniels and return two of their top three scorers from a season ago in seniors Brooke Packard (Dudley, Mass.) and Allison Cerrato (Rockland, Mass.). Packard averaged 9.6 points per game, while Cerrato was at 7.7 points per game and they combined for 78 steals in 2016-17. The team’s second-leading rebounder junior Amy Assad (Millis, Mass.), looks to build on her 6.1 rebounds and 7.2 points per game this year.

 
Brooke Packard, NC

10. Wentworth

With the loss of just one senior from last year’s team, the Wentworth Institute of Technology looks to be much-improved and return to the CCC Tournament after just missing out a season ago. Nine players return from last year’s team, including senior Haley Sabino (Topsfield, Mass.) who averaged 10.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game and recorded four double-doubles on the season while sophomore Sam McGibbon (Pembroke, Mass.) enjoyed a freshman season which saw her average 7.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. A talented freshman class enters the mix this year and includes Stephanie Mini (Topsfield, Mass.).

  
Haley Sabino, WIT

 

 

 

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 four 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 administers championships in 18 intercollegiate sports.

 

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