BOSTON - The University of New Hampshire women's basketball team, returning ten letterwinners from the 2004-05 squad that finished third in America East and advanced to the semifinals of the postseason tournament, was picked to finish fourth in the preseason coaches' poll, released today by the conference office.
Hartford, the defending conference tournament champion, has been chosen as the preseason favorite, receiving all eight possible first-place votes (coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams) totaling 64 points. 2005 conference tournament finalist Boston University and defending regular season champion Maine tied for second with 45 points, with the Wildcats right behind them with 42 points.
Binghamton and Stony Brook are tied for fifth with 36 points, followed by Vermont (30), Albany (16), and UMBC (10).
Hartford placed two players on the preseason all-conference team: unanimous selection Erika Messam and Ikea Witt. Rachel Laws of Binghamton was also a unanimous selection to the team, while Boston University's Katie Meinhardt and Stony Brook's Mykeema Ford received enough votes to join the other players on the preseason squad.
Last season, the Wildcats finished with a 15-14 overall record, including victories over Dartmouth, Tennessee State, Yale, and Providence. A 10-8 conference record was good enough for third place in America East and included season sweeps of Stony Brook, UMBC, and Albany, as well as a thrilling 60-57 win over Maine, one of only two conference losses suffered by the Black Bears during the season.
The top five scorers from the 2004-05 team return for the Wildcats, led by fifth-year senior Lindsay Adams (Theresa, N.Y.), who averaged 11.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Senior Ebony Woods (Philadelphia, Pa.) and juniors Danielle Clark (Corinna, Maine) and Whitney Edwards (Mount Vernon, N.Y.) are the other starters returning for the Wildcats, along with junior Ray Williams (Mississauga, Ontario), who battled injuries last season but still made a significant contribution to the team's success.
This season, UNH's 27-game regular season schedule includes a home date with regional rival UMass as well as a possible meeting with ACC power Boston College on the second day of the UNH Thanksgiving Tournament. Road games against Colgate, Northeastern, and Dartmouth also highlight the non-conference schedule.
The Wildcats tip off the 2005-06 season Saturday, November 19, at Yale University beginning at 7 p.m. The first home game is Tuesday, November 22, against Marist at 7 p.m. at Lundholm Gym. The conference schedule kicks off at Lundholm Gym against UMBC on Wednesday, January 4, at 7 p.m.