Women's Basketball Picked To Finish Seventh In The Little East

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass.—After an earning a trip to the Little East Conference Tournament for the first time in three years, UMass Boston women's basketball was picked to finish seventh in the Little East Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll with 24 points, the league announced Wednesday afternoon.

Courtney Mattingly's squad returns seven members from last season's team and also welcomes a heralded incoming class of six freshmen and one transfer.

The University of Southern Maine was picked as the conference favorite, after garnering 63 points and seven of eight possible first-place votes. The Huskies return three starters from a team that finished second in the regular season standings and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament after falling to top-seeded Rhode Island College in the LEC Championship Game.

Western Connecticut State University and Rhode Island College were picked to finish second and third (47 and 45 points), right on the heels of the Huskies. The two teams played in the LEC Semifinals, with the top-seeded Anchorwomen coming away with a 20 point win over the Colonials.

UMass Dartmouth grabbed the final first-place vote and finished with 43 points. Eastern Connecticut State University and the Keene State Owls were chosen to finish fifth and sixth respectively with 31 and 25 points.

Rounding out the poll, was Plymouth State University, which earned 10 points in the poll.

The Beacons return four out of six players who earned 15 or more starts from a team that finished 8-18 and 4-10 in LEC play. Despite their struggles, the Beacons earned a 75-53 win over Eastern Connecticut State University on the final day of the regular season to grab the sixth and final playoff spot in the LEC Tournament.

Sophomores Kirsten Morrison (Reading, Mass.) and Lauren Perra (Taunton, Mass.) highlight the Beacons young squad.

Morrison was named the Little East Conference Rookie of the Year and the D3Hoops.com Northeast Region Rookie of the Year for her stellar freshman campaign. The dual-sport star averaged a double-double (16.5 points and 10.1 rebounds) in 25 games. She finished in the top five in the LEC in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots and offensive rebounds, while leading the Beacons to wins in three of their final four regular season games.

Perra earned the starting point guard position from day one and proved to by a dynamic force, with 11.6 points per game and a team-high 83 assists. This season Perra will spend more time at the shooting guard slot, allowing her to focus more on her own offensive production.

Seniors Teresa Pina (Boston, Mass.) and Elisa Ogawa (Yamanashi, Japan) are also expected to make big impacts. Pina finished third on the team in scoring with 7.8 points per game and can do a little bit of everything-as she ranked amongst the team leaders in rebounds, assists, steals and free throw percentage. Ogawa is capable of huge things, as the former NAIA player has averaged 5.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game as a Beacon.

Junior transfer Andrea Suffredini (Milton, Mass.) should make an immediate impact with UMass Boston after spending two years at Suffolk University. Suffredini will be the Beacons starting point guard and a huge leader on a Beacons team that sports just four upperclassmen.

The rest of the roster is comprised of underclassmen, with two sophomore centers and six freshmen. Head coach Courtney Mattingly hopes the team's younger players can add some depth and take the scoring weight off of Perra and Morrison, a year after the Beacons finished last in scoring in the LEC at 54.3 points per game.

UMass Boston gets its season underway Saturday November 17 when they host Manhattanville College at 1 p.m. in the first round of the UMass Boston Tip-Off Classic. The two-day tournament will be played at Simmons College, with the Beacons and Valiants kicking things off at 1 p.m.

2012-13 Little East Women's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll
Rank Institution First Place Total Points
1 University of Southern Maine 7 63
2 Western Connecticut State University
47
3 Rhode Island College
45
4 University of Massachusetts Dartmouth  1 43
5 Eastern Connecticut State University   31
6 Keene State   25
7 University of Massachusetts Boston   24
8 Plymouth State University   10