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Panthers open season at Swarthmore (Pa.) Tip-Off Tournament PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The women's basketball team at Plymouth State College begins the 2001-02 season this weekend, traveling to Pennsylvania for the Swarthmore College Tip-Off Tournament. The Panthers will take on Trinity College (Conn.) at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, with Swarthmore taking on Juniata College in the other first-round contest. The consolation game is Sunday at 2:00 p.m., followed by the championship at 4:00 p.m. Plymouth State will then have a nine-day break before resuming action with three home games in five days. The opener at Foley Gymnasium is Tuesday, Nov. 27th, against Gordon College (7:00 p.m.), and the first Little East Conference game is Saturday, Dec. 1st, vs. UMass Dartmouth (1:00 p.m.). PSC will play 13 games at Foley Gymnasium, including matchups against all seven LEC opponents. The conference tournament, which includes the top six teams, begins Feb. 19th, with a champion being crowned on Feb. 23rd and receiving an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament. Led by fourth-year head coach Lauren Lavigne, the Panthers are seeking their third straight 20-win season, while aiming for their first LEC Championship. PSC went 20-8 overall last year and finished third in the LEC during the regular season with a 10-4 mark, its best record in six years. The Panthers earned their second straight ECAC Tournament bit, and made it to the semifinals both years. 2001-02 P.S.C. Women's Basketball Outlook

"Our biggest challenge is for our junior class to become leaders," said Lavigne. "They are not the up and coming class anymore. It's time for them to take charge."

The Panthers will get excellent leadership from the three senior captains - Megan Fournier (East Waterboro, Maine), Brooke Randall (Harrisville, R.I.) and Tammi Waters (Wilmington, Vt.). Fournier, who can play several positions, was the team's fourth leading scorer last year (9.1 ppg) and one of the top defensive players in the conference. Randall and Waters have improved every season, and are part of the regular guard rotation this winter.

"Those three represent what we want PSC women's basketball to be," said Lavigne. "They're excellent leaders and excellent captains."

The junior class that Lavigne mentioned includes guards Jenn Pelletier (Derry, N.H.) and Whitney Morin (Derby Line, Vt.) and forwards Courtney Albert (Hudson, N.H.) and Heather Adey (Nashua, N.H.). All four have seen significant playing time in their first two seasons, and all four have shown signs of stardom. Lavigne is looking for the group to rise to the challenge.

Pelletier is now in her third year as starting point guard. She was named All-LEC First Team last year after averaging four assists a game and finishing third on the team in scoring with 12.3 points an outing. Morin came off the bench to provide strong defense at several positions along with eight points a game, fifth highest on the team.

Albert has led the team in scoring the last two seasons, including a 14.7 ppg average last year while shooting 51 percent from the field. The 1999-2000 LEC Rookie of the Year, she was named All-LEC First Team last season as well as All-New England Second Team.

"Our upperclassmen as a whole have a better understanding of team basketball," said Lavigne. "We've been together for a couple of years now so they understand our system."

Two others who will be looking for playing time at guard are sophomore Mandi Allen (Blue Hill, Maine), a transfer from Husson College (Maine), and sophomore Erica Perry (Center Conway, N.H.), who averaged 12 minutes a game off the bench for PSC as a freshman.

Freshman Betsy Oswalt (Jaffrey, N.H.) could see plenty of action in the Panther frontcourt, although she can also play the perimeter. Sophomore Sarah Peabody (Raynham, Mass.) could help out if she can get healthy, and freshman center Heidi McAllister (Newport, N.H.) will contribute more with added experience.

Rounding out the roster are freshmen forwards Lauren Devereaux (Hope Valley, R.I.), Stephanie Sheldon (Pembroke, N.H.) and Stacey Sheldon (Pembroke, N.H.).

"Winning the Little East is our No. 1 goal," said Lavigne, "and like every year, it's going to be tough. All of the top teams have all of their top players back, so this year it's really going to be difficult. We have a strong non-league schedule, which will get us ready for the LEC. We're focused on being in top form in February."

2001-02 PSC Women's Basketball Roster 2001-02 PSC Women's Basketball Schedule