BOSTON – Following a historic 2016-17 season, the New Hampshire Wildcats are the unanimous favorite in the 2017-18 America East Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Poll, the conference announced Thursday. Preseason poll voting was conducted by the conference’s nine head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own teams.
New Hampshire returns four starters, including 2016-17 America East Player of the Year, Carlie Pogue, and three all-league student-athletes in Kat Fogarty, Brittni Lai and Olivia Healy. After winning their first outright regular season title in program history and a program record 25 wins, the Wildcats earned all eight potential first-place votes and the maximum 64 points.
Albany received the final first-place vote and earned 53 points. The reigning America East Champions reached the NCAA tournament for an unprecedented sixth consecutive time in 2016-17. Since the 2011-12 season, they have been a top-two team in the poll every season. Preseason all-league choice Jessica Féquière is their top returning scorer and ranked 4th in the conference in rebounding last season (7.0 rpg).
Binghamton was picked third and returns four starters, including reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Alyssa James, as well as a First-Team All-Conference choice from 2016-17, in Imani Watkins. Kai Moon also returns following a season in which she was named to the America East All-Rookie Team. Under Head Coach Linda Cimino, the Bearcats continue to climb in the preseason poll after they were picked fourth last season.
Hartford completes the top four. Under first-year Head Coach Kim McNeill, the Hawks advanced to the America East semifinals after missing out in 2015-16. Their 17 total wins were their most since the 2012-13 season. This is the Hawks’ highest ranking in the preseason poll since the 2014-15 season. They return 2016-17 Rookie of the Year Sierra DaCosta in addition to three starters.
Here is the full poll:
2017-18 Women’s #AEHoops Preseason Coaches’ Poll
Rank School Pts (1st-Place Votes)
1. New Hampshire 64 (8) - unanimous
2. Albany 53 (1)
3 Binghamton 51
4. Hartford 43
5. UMBC 34
6. Maine 31
7. Vermont 24
8. Stony Brook 16
9. UMass Lowell 8
Sixteen student-athletes who earned All-Conference, All-Defensive or All-Rookie honors last year return for the 2017-18 season. Three teams made postseason appearances, including UMBC, who did so for the second consecutive season. It marked the third-straight year that at least three America East programs have played in the postseason.
The 2017-18 season begins on November 10 and conference play begins January 3. The #AETourney was hosted at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine last year and will return again this season.
Follow the brand-new @AEHoopsNews Twitter account to stay up-to-date on #AEHoops news all season long.
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