SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Salve Regina University has been selected as the preseason favorite to win the 2012-13 Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Women’s Basketball Championship, it was announced today by Commissioner Gregg M. Kaye. Voting for the preseason poll was conducted among the league’s head women’s basketball coaches.
Defending conference champion Salve Regina (19-10, 13-5 CCC) received seven of a possible 10 first place votes in the 2012-13 CCC preseason poll. University of New England (22-6, 16-2) was selected to finish second, while acquiring one first place vote. Endicott College (18-12, 12-6), the 2011-12 runner-up, and Roger Williams University (14-12, 11-7) tied to finish third, while Western New England University was slated to finish fifth, respectively. Rounding out the remaining five slots were Curry College (sixth), Eastern Nazarene College (seventh), Nichols College (eighth), Gordon College (ninth), and Wentworth Institute of Technology (10th).
The 2011-12 season was a banner year for the Salve Regina Seahawks, as the team captured their third CCC Championship in the past five years. Coach Cori Hughes is in her sixth season at Salve Regina, compiling a 94-43 (.686) record over her tenure. The Seahawks will be looking to senior Kaitlyn Birrell and junior Marissa Pendergast to lead the way as they were among the leaders in almost every statistical category among returners last season. Alison Pigoga has impressed the coaching staff in pre-season in her bid for more playing time with the graduation of Lindsay Shorey. This year’s squad sees the addition of four freshmen, adding youth to an experienced core.
The University of New England Nor’easters graduated three starters from last year’s team that posted a 22-6 record and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Championship. Sixth-year head coach Anthony Ewing has won 20 or more games four consecutive seasons and owns a career 102-40 record. UNE will be led by senior forward Beth Suggs, who averaged 12.4 points and 8.8 rebounds a year ago on her way to being named second team all-CCC.
Endicott (18-12, 12-6) returns all but one player from the squad that reached the CCC Championship game last season. The Gulls will look to leadership at the guard position, which will feature captains Jen McBrien, the lone senior, and junior Ashley Walenta. Endicott will hope to get plenty of scoring from juniors Samantha Crough, who is a pure shooter and can play in the paint and Jen White, a threat from behind the three-point line, where she shot .381 last year.
Roger Williams comes into 2012-13 after notching its second consecutive winning campaign last year, going 13-12 and earning a berth into the CCC Tournament for the second straight season. RWU will return its top three scorers in Kaitlyn Bovee (15.4 ppg), Alexandria Lanieri (12.2 ppg), and Elizabeth Kilzi (8.2 ppg). Bovee and Lanieri both earned spot on the All-CCC First Team, as well as being recognized as NEWBA All-New England players. RWU also brings back all four first-year players from last season, who all saw increased playing time as a result of injuries.
With four starters returning from a team that advanced to the 2012 CCC Semifinals, expectations are high for Western New England (14-13, 12-6) to contend for a conference championship this season. Senior guard Emily Savino earned a spot on the All-CCC first team after leading the CCC in 3-point percentage (.452), free throw percentage (.823), 3-pointers made (1.9 p/g). Junior tri-captain Ali Pessolano joins Savino at the guard position (9.5 rpg, 3.0 rpg, 47 3-pointers). Sophomore forward Sam McCann (5.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and junior guard Katie Eckert (3.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 50 assists) are also back. The team is experienced with 10 veterans on the 16-player roster. While WNE is solid on defense holding opponents to a 58.3 scoring average, the Golden Bears must find a way to generate more offense after scoring 58.1 points per game last season.
Curry enters the 2012-2013 campaign with a roster consisting of seven returning players and four newcomers. This year’s backcourt will be led by two returning starters. Junior captain Ashley Assarian will run the Colonels’ offense for her third-straight season as the starting point guard, and will share the backcourt with sophomore Kylie Beltz. Beltz is a combo-guard that started all 26 contests last season, leading the team in scoring with 11.7 points per game while logging a team-high 952 minutes. Senior captain Carolyn Houston anchors the frontcourt for Curry. Houston has been named as the team’s Defensive Player of the Year for three-straight seasons.
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